les claypool: no drugs necessary
Les Claypool performed at the House of Blues in Boston last Thursday and it was the closest thing to a religious experience I’ve ever had.
Sober as a bird*, packed into the front row of the recently redone HOB (right across from Fenway), Ivan and I rocked OUT.
The concert, billed as The Oddity Faire: A Mutated Mini Fest, featured artists O’Death, Secret Chief 3 and Saul Williams. And of course, Lessy poo. All for 25 bucks!
Ivan and I got there at the beginning of O’Death’s set. They kept me pretty interested. More specifically, the violin and the banjo kept me interested. During the show I took notes on my cell phone because I forgot a pad and pen, and I typed that the beginning of one of their songs sounded like “Satin in a Coffin” by Modest Mouse. The band had a lot of energy, but the shirtless bassist was going nuts. As the set went on the songs seemed to get more intense, and it was as if the band was fighting each other with their instruments. “Can rock as hard as they want because the banjo keeps it bluegrass” – direct quote from my cell phone draft.
Secret Chief 3 was on next (I was surprised all evening at how quick the set changes were), donning their dark blue, Merlin-esque, creepy, cape-y uniforms. The singer had a long beard and was very tall and unsettling. Nice! Their music had a dark, somewhat satanic tone. It reminded me of what would would be playing during the last level of an RPG game. The music was so hard and driving that it was literally making my jeans vibrate against my body. Around the fourth song in the band busted into some amazing violin. I gotta give that lovely stringed instrument props, because it was so essential to the sound of both O’ Death and Secret Chief 3. In this case, the violin lightened up the music of SC3 and added this weird (read: awesome) dance-y element to it.
Next on the bill was Saul Williams. At this point Ivan and I met up with some friends and we hung out for most of the band’s (err, Saul’s?) set. I wasn’t paying too much attention, but he was rapping and rocking and talking about Obama. From what I watched, the set seemed pretty high energy and Saul was really going for it… I don’t know, I’m sorry Saul. That was pretty weak.
Ivan and I had already made our way back into the crowd when Les Claypool came on. He opened the set with “Buzzards of Green Hill” and the two of us sat there with our mouth’s hanging open. Everybody in the audience started grooving (and Ivan and I started grooving our way closer and closer to the front.) Les played a few more tunes before addressing the audience. He sounded just like the live recording I had of him from when I first saw his band at Gathering of the Vibes two years ago. At that festival I stood about a mile away from him in a huge field, and while I was feeling the hell out of the music I was somewhat disconnected. At this show I got to see every clothing change, instrument change, and every mask change. Yes, he wore the pig mask. (I would be remiss not to mention that during one of these outfit changes the rest of the band had an amazing jam session that totally blew the crowd away.)
I didn’t have much concept of time (because Les’s whamola had launched me into an alternate reality) but a little over halfway through his set he started reflecting on being back in Boston. He said something about having a lot of old friends here, and revealed to the audience that Boston-based band Morphine was there to play a song with him. After they finished, Les tells the audience that playing the song was a very big moment for him. Everybody cheered, and I remember thinking that the fans were being so kind to him and showing him so much support. Les returns the favor when he busts into “One Better” and jams to it for about 15 minutes.
I couldn’t. Dance. Hard. Enough.
Les Claypool is the Tantric God of music making. The way he structures and executes his songs makes you want to pull your hair out with pleasure and frustration–get to the chorus already! Somebody in the audience even referred to him as a “cock tease.” You catch my drift?
I hate to end this review by talking about the guy that threw a water bottle onstage during the last song, causing Les to stop performing and instead discuss with the audience what a small penis this man must have, so I won’t. Instead I will say that listening to Les Claypool is like getting hit in the face with a musical frying pan, and that for 25 bucks you would be a total newb to not check out this tour. (But the tour is over, so you are a newb.)
*This was a very refreshing experience to me. My roommates and I recently went to Northampton to see The New Deal, and I was extremely disheartened by the scene. I understand letting loose at a concert. Whether it’s weed, booze, hallucinogens, whatever, I don’t care- do your thing. But this show was filled with tweakers. Tweakers as in, Buntology staffer Christina saw a group of girls smoking crack on the dance floor (allegedly). When I looked around Pearl Street that night I wondered what the purpose was. Why are we here, people? Are we here for the music, or are we here to bug ourselves out on drugs? That night it was apparent that the latter was the truth.