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POP MUSIC REVIEWS : Ween: Making Fun of One and All

October 08, 1994|RICHARD CROMELIN

On its records, such as the new "Chocolate and Cheese," the quintessential slacker duo Ween strikes a shaky balance between its fertile musical imagination and its contempt for the world.

Dean and Gene Ween have such facility with the elements of pop and such an experimental spirit that they can be alternately buoyant and creepy, charming and offensive. It's all superficial and manipulative, but it can be great, seductive fun.

The new CD itself is also adorned with a middle-finger salute, which is pretty much the story of Ween on stage. At the Viper Room on Thursday, the two pals from Pennsylvania were encouraged to indulge their mocking side by an audience that flashed devil-horn hand signs during metal tunes and lifted lighters on the ballads.

Not that Ween needs encouragement. Undisciplined and self-absorbed, they made fun of hard-rock, light pop, lounge pop, ethnic music and even their own performance. Like smart-guy misfits lashing at the world, they delighted in how naughty they could be, offering a faux Mexican ballad and a bright little jingle with the periodic refrain of "AIDS . . . HIV."

There was no sign that they believe in anything but their own cleverness. After the buoyancy fades, the taste they leave is unpleasantly bitter.

* Ween plays tonight at Jabberjaw, 3711 Pico Blvd., 9 p.m. $8. (213) 732-3463, and Sunday at McCabe's, 3101 Pico Blvd., Santa Monica, 7 p.m. $10. (310) 828-4497.

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