Les Claypool’s The Oddity Faire | 03.17.09

claypool_small.jpgAn eclectic evening of oddities, indeed.








The Pageant, St. Louis

I am not the sort of person who can talk about Les Claypool at any length. In high school, Primus and his other endeavors were always beloved by the bassists who played with too many strings and the drummers with too many cymbals and toms. Of course, as I got older things changed; my musical perspective broadened and inevitably lead me to the Pageant to see one of the more interesting lineups to hit St. Louis in recent time.

Openers The Secret Chiefs 3 commanded the stage with excessive low end, mixing Eastern instrumentation with distorted structures. Their version of the theme to Halloween was both awesome and the exact sort of tune a band needs to gain the interest of a crowd that may not have even known of their existence an hour before. We found ourselves grinning and laughing, if only because what was on stage was so out of the ordinary. This was something we’d find ourselves doing the rest of the night.

Saul Williams didn’t fare as well. Running through spirited moments of spoken word and last year’s  Inevitable Rise and Fall of Niggy Tardust, Saul and his band struggled with the crowd, which seemed alienated by their Kayne-meets-Mad Max appearance as well as the sequencer and midi elements they employed. After expressing his frustration, Williams closed out with a vicious performance of "Sunday Bloody Sunday" and "List of Demands (Reparations)."

DeVotchka gave a beautiful performance, setting a perfect mood for Claypool. Singer Nick Urta’s voice and guitar alone embodied the diverse tone of the tour.

The crowd, at best, was polite to the three opening acts, and in the moments leading up to Claypool and his band taking stage, the Pageant dance floor seemingly took on a whole different energy. Claypool and his cohorts opened with "Highball With The Devil" and dove quickly into tracks from Of Fungi and Foe (which had just dropped that day), playing "Amatinas," "Red State Girl" and "What Would Sir George Martin Do" interspersed between Frog Brigade ("David Makalaster") and older material ("Calling Kyle").  Decked out in tuxedos, with Claypool donning a 50s ballroom mask (though it was hardly the only headgear he would possess during the set). Claypool and his Fancy Band reminded me that you could be musically adept without being a selfish wanker, giving me perspective I had lost from my time as a counter jockey at Guitar Center. The jam/duel between percussionist Dillion and drummer Paldi (with a short tease of "Whamola") was a definite highlight, as was Claypool hammering out "Booneville Stomp" solo on a resonator bass shortly thereafter. My companion (Jason Braun from Jason and the Beast) commented that this was all starting to remind him of Tom Waits. With the distorted cello, massive drums and xylophone it was easy to see the similarities as much as the differences. Riding the crowd’s enthusiasm the whole way through, they closed out with "Iowan Girl" and "Buzzards of Green Hill." | Bryan J. Sutter

Set list:
Highball With The Devil
David Makalaster
Redstate Girl
What would Sir George Martin Do
Calling Kyle
Drum off with Whamola tease
Booneville Stomp
Of Whales and Woe
Electric Funeral

Iowan Gal
Buzzards Of Green Hill

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