Les ClaypoolPosted 06/15/2007 08:05AM by Rick Gebhardt as Show Review
Friday, June 1 at the Roxy in Boston was my first Les Claypool experience and one I would be sure not to forget. It seems like everyone who listens to Les Claypool has seen him dozens of times and I was finally about to realize why. One of the first things I noticed was the diversity of the audience. It’s not often that there is an act that can appeal to jam band followers as well as metalheads but there is something about Les Claypool that is able to bring a diverse crowd together. With the opening band being the alternative/indie/folk duo Two Gallants, there was even more variety which would result in quite an interesting experience.
Two Gallants was an unusual choice as an opening band for an eccentric act like Les Claypool. They are a much more laid back and straightforward band consisting of vocalist/guitarist Adam Stephens and drummer Tyson Vogel. A combination like this usually evokes thoughts of The White Stripes but Two Gallants are far removed from that sound. Instead, they play fast punk-influenced folk songs and long alternative country ballads. Take for example, the crowd favorite “Las Cruces Jail” which starts off with slow country guitar lines before morphing into a playful stomp. Another highlight is the relaxed and carefree “Steady Rollin’.”
A song that turned a lot of heads was “Long Summer Day” which is actually a cover of an old Moses Platt tune. The song is the story of a black man dealing with oppression and contains a controversial use of the ‘n word’. It was actually one of the more intense and seemingly heartfelt songs that they played. The band definitely started to lose the audience in the long ballads, which seemed to drag on unnecessarily long. This was when everyone was really feeling the anticipation of seeing the headlining act.
Les Claypool’s Fancy Band was quite a sight to see. It consisted of Gabby La La (sitar), Skerik (tenor saxophone), Mike Dillion (marimba, percussion), and Paulo Baldi (drums). They opened with “Up on the Roof” which was an excellent choice because of its plucky upbeat sound that got everyone excited for the show. As soon as Les Claypool started played the first few notes of the song, the crowd erupted in cheers. It was interesting to see a band that did not have a guitar on stage but Gabby La La did a good job of filling the void with her unique sitar playing. She looked quite amusing wearing a large purple wig and big bug-eyed sunglasses while playing a sitar that was almost as big as her and had a leopard skin design on the bottom. Rarely do you get to see someone shred the sitar but there was no shortage of it at this show.
Gabby also performed using a ukulele and a theremin including a playful solo using the latter alongside Claypool. Each member of the band had a song where they were able to shine. “Long in the Tooth” gave the percussionists an opportunity to show what they were capable of and they had some excellent moments of dual percussion jamming. I’m usually not a fan of jamming but the band was able to keep me captivated throughout the entire show and had enough diversity between technique and instrumentation to keep things interesting. The band was able to pull of some incredible P-Funk like moments but also some impressive faux jazz soloing.
Les Claypool played a diverse array of basses throughout the performance including his infamous Carl Thompson Rainbow Bass, a 6-string fretless bass. He also played an electric stand-up bass but the songs he used it on were unfortunately the least appealing. Another thing he continually changed along with his bases was his appearance. He wore a pig mask during some songs, an outrageous looking plastic hairpiece, and some absurd goggles. He gained the most favorable responses from the funkier songs like “Rumble of the Diesel” from his latest album, Of Whales and Woe, which also contained an excellent saxophone solo compliments of Skerik. Also from that album were the buoyant “One Better” and the bizarre stomp of “Lust Stings”, both of which got considerable applause from the crowd.
They ended the night with one of my personal favorites “Buzzards of Green Hill” followed by the highlight of the evening, “D’s Diner.” As Les Claypool was singing “Who wants to go to D’s Diner”, the entire venue was screaming, “Me!” and “I do!” while dancing. It an incredible example of how worked up the audience got during certain songs. The night ended with a performance of “Whamola” featuring Les Claypool playing a one-string bass with a detuner on top that made a low pitched motorcycle-like rumble when pulled. In all, it was a great show and I was now able to see how Claypool attained such avid followers. Anyone who knows me knows that I usually can’t stand bands that jam a lot but I can honestly say that I thoroughly enjoyed the entire experience.