Frank Zappa, the Garrick Theater, NYC, New York, 1967. Bruce Springsteen, the Roxy Theater, Los Angeles, California, 1975. The Sex Pistols, Randy's Rodeo, San Antonio, Texas, 1978. For certain musicians and their fans, there exist dates and places that conjure up extraordinary moments. Performances by the artist that transcend such descriptions as "great" or "memorable," and demand use of such superlatives as "magical" or "definitive." The musicians acknowledge that they felt "something special" at the time, and the fans lucky enough to be present prize their ticket stubs like million-dollar scratch-offs.
In the summer of 2000, Ween, the misfit comedian outsiders of rock 'n' roll, took the stage at Stubbs Amphitheater in Austin, Texas, and delivered two performances that surpassed the expectations of everyone involved. I was fortunate enough to be there on those hot July nights, and driving home after each show, I sat in appreciative silence as I contemplated the astonishing performances I had witnessed. Apparently, the band members felt the same because two years later, Ween has released Live at Stubbs, 7/2000, a three-disc set capturing the highlights from the two concerts.
"This was one of the rowdiest crowds we have ever played to, `and Stubbs` is the perfect setting for a drunken, Texas-style party, which is exactly what happened," says Dean Ween in the album's liner notes. Dean Ween started the band with his "brother" Gene Ween back in the early '90s. The band has released several critically acclaimed albums in the past decade, and has also earned an equally revered reputation as one of the hottest live acts today. While no recording can capture the true essence of being there, Live at Stubbs documents the experience well.
The 31 tracks span the band's entire repertoire, from the early psychedelia of "Marble Juicy Tulip Tree" through the country satire of "Mister Richard Smoker" to the McCartney-esque pop of "Even if You Don't." The band is in peak form throughout, but the 10-minute guitar tour-de-force "Voodoo Lady," the instrumental "Tears for Eddie," and the crowd pleasing "Pony" stand out as highlights. The "Hot for Teacher" cover also deserves special mention, as Ween manages to out-camp Roth and the Van Halen brothers.
The third disc contains a MPEG video of the complete 40-minute encore "L.M.L.Y.P.," an improvisational funk number that combines Prince's "Shockadelica" and "Alphabet City" with original Ween lyrics and music. "One of the better versions we played, 'L.M.L.Y.P.' is highlighted by the fact that while it was 'going down,' there were girls onstage doing the same," says Dean Ween. Audience participation at its sleaziest, three women climbed the stage during the finale and proceeded to grope, kiss - and yes, even go down on each other while the audience hooted and hollered in appreciation. Apparently, this happens only in Texas, and it is available for all to see on disc three.
The album can be purchased through the band's Web site, www.ween.com. Reasonably priced and boasting a pristine soundboard recording, Live at Stubbs shows the rest of the world how inspiring, and provocative, a Texas audience can be. •
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