Colonel Claypool’s Bucket of Bernie Brains

Colonel Claypool’s Bucket of Bernie Brains

Great American Music Hall, San Francisco, CA • September 16, 2002

Les Claypool of Primus fame basically got together with a batch of his weird cookies and had a big jam session. In my opinion, this jam band stuff is for people who are too lazy to write songs, but what do I know? It does take a certain amount of skill to be able to improvise like that, but that’s kinda what you are supposed to incorporate into a live show anyway. Well, maybe not. All I know is that I went away wishing they actually played pre-written songs. Excellent show, though.

It was my first time seeing Brain (also a member of Primus and Guns N’ Roses) play the drums. What a toughguy. This guy has a great sound and style, very aggressive and on-top. All those little splash grabs are fun. The guy doesn’t seem to miss a beat, even when his snare breaks and his roadie doesn’t realize it for about 5 minutes. He just took his snare drum off, sat it on the ground, and continued playing. I don’t think anyone really would have noticed. I thought he was just being artsy at first, until his roadie finally freaked out and ran over to remedy the situation.

Les had this bizarre set-up. For one thing, his mic was way too low. He had to bend way over to talk into it and for some reason also put one foot on the monitor, so he was basically sticking his knee in his face. He also had this weird little second mic connected to the stand that seemed to go through some sort of second P.A. with a terrible bullhorn sound. You couldn’t understand a word he was muttering through it. Les played a few different basses, including this thing called the Whamola that he hauled out at the end. This seemed to be the punchline to the show — it’s like a one-string stand-up bass, with a weird hinge / whammy bar on the “headstock.” Its signal was run through an envelope and distortion, and he played it with a drum stick.

I can’t say I heard very much from Bernie Worrell. I hear he is a very famous musician, and I apologize from my lack of music history knowledge. I just couldn’t hear much of anything he was doing. He seemed to be having a lot of fun though. Maybe it was where I was sitting.

Buckethead was another thing to stare at. This guy has so many weird little gimmicks and ‘isms that it is impossible to keep up. He’s incredibly tall, for one thing, and that’s not counting the huge KFC bucket on his head. I’ll agree with my friends when I say that he was most definitely playing some very tasty stuff. What he did was never inappropriate, and his ideas seemed to meld into the music at just the right moment. He did very little shredding and instead stuck to more melodic stuff. For his special solo in the spotlight, everyone else left the stage and Buckethead came out with a huge bag of weird stuff and threw it into the audience. Someone also gave him a toy R2-D2 and he played with that for a while. I can’t imagine what this guy looks like playing with Axl Rose, as he is also in the new Guns & Roses.

An abundance of guest appearances were also made, including a stoned and / or drunk audience member who insisted on rapping on Les’ mic. Les took his hat off for the guy and hovered it over his head from behind. The guy was soon escorted off and it was hard to tell if he was part of the show or not. I guess he was. There was also this weird dude dressed up in a George W. mask, playing through this little handheld keyboard with a tube coming out of it that he blew into. The sound was eerie, and he ended up going into this bad trip and shaking all over the place as the music went into this insane crescendo and lights flashed.

At one point the band was sampled into some pedals and they left the stage while the loops played. The band re-appeared as various characters on the balcony after some time and acted out a short skit in which George W. was killed with what seemed to be a saw. The audience went nuts.

I also wrote down in my notes that there was a “weird pig.” But I don’t remember what that means, so I will end on that.

Les Claypool: • Buckethead: • Bernie Worell:

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