On a whim, I went to see Les Claypool last night. His bass playing style is a hard-hitting funk that I haven’t seen since I saw Keziah Jones several years back in Tokyo. His finger-slapping style throws out over the crowd like thick waves of jello – as soon as he starts playing, the whole room can’t help but start jumping.
I’ve never seen him play live before so I asked the others there what to expect. Everyone shrugged their shoulders, he likes to mix it up so much you never know what he’ll bring out.
Les took the stage with a sitar player named Gabby La La who wore a bright blue wig with ponytails and looked like an off-duty Japanese Anime character. The percussionist, Mike Dillon, was also amazing. Most of the time he played vibraphone but several times in the show his enthusiasm for the timbales got the best of him and he hauled his set out from the corner over to center stage and laid down a groove with the drummer that near blew the roof off the concert hall. During the entire 2 1/2 hour set he wore a rubber devil’s mask which only added to the pitch of his fever.
All 450 tickets to this Sunday night show at The Independent (the old Kennel Club) were sold out. I was lucky to get a spot right up front. I felt sorry for the bouncer who, good natured as he was, had to have his back to all the weirdness up on stage the whole night. At one point the sounds were so strange that curiosity got the best of him. You could see the question marks come out of his head when he looked up to see Les, donning a full-headed monkey mask, hunched over a one-stringed homemade base, banging on it with the back of a bow and bending the pitch with a springed lever. It just kept getting stranger.