Say hello to Mickey and Dickie

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

A couple of months ago, when a local talent booker asked me whether I thought Moistboyz would draw in Bellingham, I didn’t hesitate or equivocate in my response: “Yes, I think that show would do well here.”

It was a bit of an understatement on my part. What I meant to say was, “Hell, yes. There’s a real live Ween in that band. People are going to lose their damn minds.”

I was not wrong in my assessment, and at press time, the Sat., March 8 show at the Shakedown was very close to selling out, so much so that by the time you read this, tickets may no longer be available. Do not tarry if you’d like to go and have not yet procured entry.

Since confession is good for the soul, I must divulge that while I have nothing against Ween per se, I am not the band’s hugest fan. I figure some of you will probably decline to speak to me after reading that, and I just want you to know I understand. I know a fatal flaw when I see one, even when it occurs in myself.

What I am trying to say is a whole bunch of people in Bellingham feel a whole lot of Ween love with an intensity that can be, frankly, a little frightening. Our adoption of musicians that don’t belong to us is nothing new, and Ween is in some pretty decent company with the likes of Bob Log and Charles Bradley in the pantheon of performers we claim unauthorized ownership of.

It’s not exactly a giant leap of logic to suggest Moistboyz could be the next band to land a permanent spot in Bellingham’s heart. As mentioned, the band features the considerable talents of Mickey Melchiondo, the man who for nearly three decades has been far better known to the world as Dean Ween. Along with his lifelong musical partner in crime (truly—these two met in eighth grade typing class) Aaron Freeman (aka Gene Ween), fronted Ween, the band they named after their aural alter egos.

Although it’s likely you could go your whole life listening to popular radio without once hearing a Ween song, radio play was never much of a component of the band’s success. Instead, they were able to count on the unceasing loyalty of a large and rabid fan base to sustain and support their various wanderings through wide-ranging musical styles and genres.

To the uninitiated, Ween was easy to dismiss as something of a “joke band,” owing to Gene Ween’s penchant for funny—albeit catchy and clever—lyrics. But to write them off as such is to comment a huge oversight—namely that guitarist Dean Ween is a flat-out, full-on shredder.

He brings his considerable skills to bear as part of Moistboyz, and in this band he’s given up both his Ween and Melchiondo monikers in favor of a new identity, Mickey Moist. Of course, a Moist boy needs his rhyming musical counterpart (how else would they justify that “z” at the end?); in this case that’s Guy Heller, or Dickie Moist, who handles the vocals in this operation.

It’s more than a little misleading to talk about Moistboyz as though they’re a new band, or even to refer to them as a Melchiondo “side project.” Mickey and Dickie have existed as Moistboyz since 1991, and had recorded two EPs and two full-length albums of their self-described “ass-whupping” punk-tinged noise rock before Ween’s 2012 breakup. Melchiondo and Heller are the Moistboyz mainstays, and over the years, they’ve invited various friends and musical contemporaries to record and play live with them. Among the musicians they’ve tapped for the current incarnation of their touring band is bassist Nick Oliveri, best known for the considerable time he spent as part of Kyuss and Queens of the Stone Age. Moistboyz is not the first collaboration for Oliveri and Melchiondo—Dean Ween contributed his distinctive guitar work to three songs on Queens of the Stone Age’s platinum album Songs for the Deaf.

From the minute Moistboyz appear onstage at the Shakedown, it is likely Mickey Moist’s—or Dean Ween’s, if you prefer—plentiful local fans will show their appreciation in true Bellingham fashion—by generally attempting to tear each other and the bar and possibly the band itself apart. Our love may be strong and true, but it also tends to be a little exuberant. Especially when in the presence of a bona fide Ween.

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6:00pm|Blaine Library

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Spanish Storytime

10:00am|Lynden Library

Ferndale Farmers Market

1:00pm|Cherry Street

Final Ferndale Market

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5:30pm|Syre Student Center

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6:00pm|Historic Fairhaven and downtown Bellingham

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