Les Claypool @ The Brooklyn Bowl (06.08.10)
Another wonderful night of music at the Brooklyn Bowl. Having just seen Les Claypool at Mountain Jam just two days earlier, I knew I would be seeing a lot of the same set list/performance. However, to me, the beauty about a Les Claypool‘s show is that even though his set list remains the same, his sounds and interpretations of his owns songs stretch beyond his own imagination. He brings a lighter version of a dark sound to my ears, brings some freaky humor to my eyes and pushes the boundaries of his own music. There are people who will argue that Les Claypool brings innovations to almost every performance while others feels that it’s “the same old thing.” I am a believer in the first opinion. And this show was particularly amazing. I ADORE Les Claypool.
Les Claypool is widely known as the bass player from the 90’s group Primus. If that doesn’t ring a bell, then perhaps you know the South Park Theme? That is Primus! Fungi is just one of the many projects that Les Claypool entertains. These days, Claypool is dabbling with his solo creations – specifically the album “Of Fungi and Foe.”
The Brooklyn Bowl was the PERFECT spot for this performance. Having been forced to see Les Claypool at Terminal 5 last year, I could go on forever on the positives of the Bowl. First of all, OVER 21 ONLY! Last year, my friends and I attended the Terminal 5 show, an under 21 venue. Yall know the front row is our spot. Within minutes of the show starting the mosh pitting was so far out of control that not only myself, but my other taller, larger friends were having to be pulled out of the front row over the banister before we got crushed. It was horrible. This spectacle is an unfortunate addition to a Claypool show because his younger followers just don’t understand what they are listening to.
Please, let me be very clear. Les Claypool HATES mosh-pitters, thrash dancing or any other general moronic moves that would interfere with the rest of this fans enjoying his show. He makes numerous points to stop his show, in mid-song, to point out the needless act of mosh-pitting and is comical yet obviously serious in his deliveries to the audience. Keep reading to see what he did to “Mr. Bald Man” during the show!
THE HOT HEAD SHOW
The opener of the show was Hot Head Show, a trio from London, England. The lead guitarist is actually the son of The Police drummer, Stewart Copeland and Curved Air‘s Sonja Kristina. It is a wonder that Les Claypool doesn’t understand the crowd’s reactions to his music when he invites groups like this to open for his show. Personally, this was just a loud 30 minute mess used to get us rowdy. There was a pretty bass solo at one point but other wise the music was a headache. An utter headache. After reading about them, their reviews are actually positive and were even billed as “the best band you have never heard of.” UGH! I am sorry but I really hate being screamed at by a band on stage. I felt like they were unstructured and wild at first but came to realize that is their style. A style I am not fond of but go check them out and make your own decision.
Les Claypool’s Fungi
Coming out to the stage, Les Claypool’s face was the only one not covered by masks that covered everything but their mouths. It’s quite odd and just what I expect from my #1 Quirk.
The first song out the hatch was Highball with the Devil. With the swipes of his bass, Claypool immediately struck us with the familiar tune and his signature sound. This song always makes me think of an army marching and his lyrics are them chanting.
Come the morning
We’ll be waiting
and weilding the power
So we state now
for the records
you brought this upon you
Paralyze, agonize, terrorize
There was beautiful cello play in here by Sam Bass on his electric cello. I feel a cello, such a classical instrument, brings an interesting layer to this kind of music that seems rather naughty and hard. Being that it was electric makes it a perfect pairing. Then you had Mike Dillon who wasted no time busting out a Xylophone solo while using four mallets. All the while, Claypool whomped on his bass bringing us that menacing tune with his cartoony voice singing the lyrics. And so it began…..
Through monstrous applause, Claypool immediately went into Duchess And The Proverbial Mind Spread which brought in chunky strings with Sam Bass on his cello. I really love the use of strings in Les Claypool’s music. Such a pretty cello and Claypool’s bass was seductive. There was a bit of drum banter here between Mike Dillon and Paulo Baldi. And boy, it sure didn’t take long for Claypool to have to give his speech.
The banter between the instruments on a Claypool stage is awesome. As Les was building into the song, he leaned over to the mic and in his cartoon-y voice exclaims, “We are playing in a blowing alley” and he changes to the electric bass for Amanitas. But before getting stared Claypool exclaims:
“Sorry, just checking the score board over here. Seein what kinda action we got goin’. Think I might put a little money down…that guy Germ has a…he’s up right now…got a little thing going on over there. ALRIGHT JIM! Let’s see what you got…“
This song reminds me of a sick version of Teddy Bears Have a Picnic. You know the kids song? Or perhaps The Wizard of Oz when the army is like “yo-hoo, yo-hoo.” There was a great drum rage by Paulo Baldi here. Claypool did his little dance where we fast walks in a circle a few times while playing. The cello on this song is drawing, like it’s calling something out. Mike Dillon‘s percussion rage with xylophone was awesome. And about three minutes into the song, Claypool has to have a talk with Mr. Bald Guy. Luckily, someone got it on camera so I don’t have to type it all out…
My favorite song to sing of Claypool’s is David Makalaster. A song about television newscaster but that speaks a strong message. Just one of my favorite songs because it’s such a raw, funky song and yet it has a fun, feisty message against what some might feel is a harsh tune. There is generally always a sing along when the chorus is sung.
Isn’t it awfully nice
To live in a world
where everything’s exactly how it seems?
We live in a world
where all you have to do is sit around and dream
About the things that make you happy
about the things that make you smile
Sit back, relax, apathy’s back in style
A typical move in the set list, they went right into Southbound Pachyderm which totally makes me think about James Bond at times. Perhaps this song should be used to open a James Bond movie. They opened for South Park so… It was during this song that I noticed that a cymbal or two was broken on Mike Dillon’s rig. Most definitely not a mistake. During Bass’s cello solo, he raged his solo to the highest note before a few strings broke. And it was back into the end of David Makalaster.
Bringing in his upright bass, he took one pluck of the instrument and brought out his bow. Always changing it up. Intermittently using the bow and his fingers, Red State Girl was next. Dillion was on a pair of tiny bongos and at some point Sara Palin was mentioned. They all played with their pedals at the end of this song makes those unusual sounds we come to hear at these shows.
As Claypool leaves the stage, Precipitation begun with Baldi‘s drums. And then out walks a pig. Claypool in one of his many masks. Still on the upright, Les continued to use the bow to make and otherwise classically played instrument sound like a moaning bear before Dillon responds with his mallets. Claypool taps his bass with the bow making a lovely and specific sound to entertain the songs melody.
And then we were given the drummer rage. Always one of my favorite parts of any musical night. Dillon went crazy on everything he had around him. He rubbed a metal can on the inside with his fingers. There was an insane xylophone rage. Check it out…
And then Claypool left the stage again and the drums raged for a good 5 minutes. I had a great video of this and all three times I have tried to upload it, it has failed. Sadly…
Then out walks a monkey. Literally walking with his knuckles dragging on the ground. Claypool in another one of his many personae. I wonder if his masks get names. He picks up a long piece of wood with a piano string attached at the top and a handle at the top. I think it’s called a level and a pickup? Correct me if I am wrong. Luckily, this video uploaded:
Booneville Stomp ushered in the Les and his Bas Dorbo, a beautiful piece of wood with a metal plate for a front. Claypool’s unique voice . The beat reminded of galloping horses and one by one each instrument joined the race and they were just hitting the same beat and crescendo-ing until they came to a fast STOP. AHHHHH! Claypool screamed a few things and the crowd screamed. Mike Dillon wasn’t hitting anything at this point. He was dancing all around his rig the entire time. When he did finally play, his mallet when flying out of his hand and he didn’t miss a bet before grabbing another one.
One Better / The Awakening / One Better brought it back to the electric bass with the signature thump and pluck. And once again, a gorgeous cello. Claypool pulled a few more of those wicked dance moves of his circling on the rug. Two strings on stage: a cello and a bass. Two sets of percussion on stage: drums and a xylophone. No guitars and no keys yet represented by the instruments on stage. It’s just an odd combination of instruments that create such an odd combination of sound that makes these songs so damn unique. It creates the ability to also work with and around what he has always created to bring new things to the songs each show. Once an innovator, always an innovator. Dillon took this time to dance as well….check it out…
Riddles Are Abound Tonight was great because it was on my friend’s wish list to be played. Claypool danced around a ton during this song and everyone sang along at times. Sam Bass truly brought it during this song. Just a great composition by Claypool. Each person took their turn giving us their best solo.
After the encore break, Claypool approached the mic and proceeds to tell us the next song, a Rush Cover song called Spirit of the Radio, would be an obscure “Sly and the Family Stone tune.”
“You know, this one’s for all the babes. Because that is what really counts in life. ANd this is an obsure Sly and the Family Stone song. Kinda takes me back to the Oakland sounds…that Oakland Soooouuuul sound. And a lot of people didn’t know this is a Sly and the Family but it actually is. And if you don’t believe me you can Wikipedia it because Wikipedia is the only true source of accurate information that we have on this planet today. “
Another show down… My year is not complete unless I see Les Claypool in some capacity at least once. Twice within a week was heaven to my ears and excitement to my eyes. Another great show 🙂
Set List: Highball with the Devil, Duchess And The Proverbial Mind Spread, Amanitas, David Makalaster I>, Southbound Pachyderm>, David Makalaster I, Red State Girl, Precipitation, Jam/Drums, Booneville Stomp, One Better / The Awakening / One Better, Riddles Are Abound Tonight, [encore break], The Spirit Of Radio (Rush)