TV’s Most Surreal Music Performances: Ween
Remember ‘The Jane Pratt Show’? Neither do we. Apparently it was a daytime talk show that lasted a mere five months on the Lifetime network back in 1993. Perhaps its short lifespan was in part due to such ill-advised musical guest choices as Ween, the willfully bizarre duo that was best known at the time for its minor alt-rock radio hit ‘Push th’ Little Daisies.’
Sticking an obscure act like Ween on a daytime talk television show (on a network targeted at middle-aged woman, no less) was obviously an interesting programming choice, but perhaps not quite as odd as it seemed, given Pratt’s cred in the world of underground rock.
Pratt, after all, was the founder and editor-in-chief of ’90s teen-girl hipster bible Sassy magazine (Thurston Moore and Kim Gordon were among the mag’s legion of devoted fans) and later held the same position at the eponymous Jane magazine. Her brief foray into TV hosting with ‘The Jane Pratt Show’ was just another facet of her then-rapidly expanding media empire.
Ween long ago proved themselves to be much more than the mere stoner-pop novelty act that many dismissed them as when ‘Push th’ Little Daisies’ wooed the ‘Beavis & Butt-head’ generation in ’93. Aaron Freeman (Gene Ween) and Mickey Melchiondo (Dean Ween) lasted more than two decades together, putting out several cult-classic albums and touring the world before they announced the demise of band in 2012.
But none of that makes Ween’s stint on ‘The Jane Pratt Show’ any less bizarre. Gene and Dean were quite stoned for their appearance, and earnestly tried to answer Pratt’s oddly in-depth questions about the decidedly lo-fi approach to recording they employed at the time.
The audience — not the collection of bored suburban housewives you might expect to attend a Lifetime taping, but rather a motley crew that could have been plucked out of line at a Greyhound bus station in Jersey — did its best to not look bored. But they didn’t really pull it off. When Dean joked that Ween wanted to “get Michael Bolton’s backing band” to record with, the laugh track was clear as day.
Perhaps even weirder than the Q&A was Ween’s decision to skip over ‘Daisies’ and instead rock out ‘Freedom of ’76,’ a blue-eyed soul jam they had recently demoed for their ‘Chocolate and Cheese’ album, which dropped the following year. The performance was pretty much dead-on and was greeted with polite applause in what turned out to be the least awkward moment of the whole show: its end.