My buddy is writing a book where he has 25 bands tell stories about their most memorable live show experience. This is my contribution, a long read but worth it:
My worst gig nightmare—by dean ween —11th grade
ween had just released “the mollusk” album, which is my favorite ween album ever. It is all folky sounding songs about the ocean. Before that record we had released our country album and toured with old session guys from Nashville. We hadn’t been on tour as a rock and roll outfit in some time and we had just assembled what would become our permanent band for the next 18 years. The band was Me and Aaron, Dave Dreiwitz on bass, Claude Coleman on drums, and Glenn McClelland on keyboards. I think it was the 4th gig for that lineup. We got a gig at the State University of NY (SUNY) on the Plattsburgh campus. Plattsburgh is up on the border of NY and Vermont so we figured it would be a bunch of hippies in the crowd. What actually happened was that there were two student councils at SUNY Plattsburgh, a black council and a white council—they got to decide the budget for the concert, who they wanted to play at their big spring fling event. The black students voted for Busta Rhymes, who was our label mate on Elektra Records at that time. The stoner white kids voted for Ween and then it was settled. Ween would play before Busta Rhymes in a massive Gym that held 5,000 people. We rented a van for this one show and drove up, all excited. When we got there it was a giant empty room with no one seemingly in charge. Busta Rhymes posse was there onstage, they had the student sound guy setting up 50 microphones for his boys, they just wandered around the stage and yelled “MAKE SOME NOISE”!. There were tough looking ghetto brothers walking all around the stage and the gym, occasionally yelling into the mics, yo, yo, yo, check one two. Busta Rhymes wasn’t even there. The only thing they needed to soundcheck was a turntable and the 50 mics, the easiest soundcheck in the world. Somehow it took 3 hours. Finally everybody wandered off and it was our turn to soundcheck right as the doors were opening. So I wrote a setlist that heavily featured our new songs from The Mollusk, a very prog-rock record. We go onstage and the whole crowd as far as I can tell, is black people. We start by playing “The Golden Eel”, a song about a fish in Aaron’s fishtank, we wrote the song while tripping on mushrooms. The black people hated it. They started throwing cups, bottles, change, chairs, anything that wasn’t nailed down. By the third song we were dead in the water, as we say in boating land. I just put my head down and played as best as I could, trying hard to tune out the crowd. All of the sudden I felt like someone punched me in the stomach with a baseball bat. I got the wind knocked out of me and stumbled backwards. When I looked up there was a 40 oz. bottle at my feet. It had hit me in the gut/dick. The perpetrator was a 300 lb. black sister who was standing right below me at my monitor. I looked her right in the eye and she waved me forward, as if she was going to tell me a secret. I leaned in and she said “baby, you gots to go.” She then stuck two thumbs down in my face to reinforce the point. And then to make sure I heard her she said again, “MOTHERFUCKER YOU GOTS TO GO.” We started to make it a challenge, us against the crowd, we can do this with dignity right? Wrong. By the time we finished our set it was a game of dodge ball, the whole crowd had a mob mentality, they were throwing everything that wasn’t nailed down with malicious intent and we were stretching our songs as long as they could go, I was taking 10 minute guitar solos just to be a dick. Just for the record, we kicked ass, we were playing with the inspiration of 14 year olds, absolutely fucking shredding to try and win the crowd over to our side. In some sick way I think we did. Anyway, we finish up and find out that Busta Rhymes hasn’t even left BROOKLYN yet! 3 ½ hours away. The teacher rep asks us to go back on and we laughed in his face as we got our check and left.
But that’s not the end of the story. We go back to our hotel, a Holiday Inn off the side of the interstate. Me and my guitar roadie Mick Preston go to the hotel bar and start drinking heavily, trying to forget the whole experience, but not really caring so much. We get wasted and the bar has a pool table that we hold for 4 hours. Around last call, 50 scary looking brothers walk in and some guy comes over to the pool table and says “last game fellas.” It ws Busta Rhymes and his posse. I tell the guy that if Busta wants to shoot pool he has to beat us first, and plus I want to tell him a story. So Busta Rhymes walks over to the pool table and I introduce myself and tell him the story about what it was like opening up for him. After all, we are on the same record label and we both have new records out. Well he thought it was the funniest story he ever heard, me getting hit with bottles—he said “THIS IS MICKEY FROM THE WEEN, THEY’RE NOT VERY POPULAR WITH THE BROTHERS.” He made me re-tell the story of our gig to every guy in his crew and posse and they were laughing their asses off. He paid for the drinks for the rest of the night and me and Mick played doubles against him and his bodyguard on the pool table until like 5am. I think he gave the bartender $5000 to keep the bar open just for us. He was the nicest guy in the world, he kept high fiving me and had me tell him the story of the gig over and over until I was hoarse. He bought all the champagne in the place, Moet– White Star, the best they had. It wasn’t Cristal, but Moet is pretty delicious. That’s pretty much the end of the story. We all stumbled back to our rooms and I distinctly remember him giving me a hug and telling me we’d see each other again out there but it never happened and probably never will again. Not the worst gig experience I’ve ever had, but one of the more memorable.