Sunday, March 29, 2009
Les Claypool's Oddity Faire
So, I attempted to break several habits last night. The first was my refusal to attend a concert alone. I also always show up far too early and end up WAITING for what feels like an eternity for the show to begin, and then I wait until the very last possible moment to LEAVE the concert. These are all habits that seem harmless enough, but can be very tricky in the grand scheme of things. The first habit of "NO SOLO CONCERT ATTENDANCES" is the worst one... as stated in my previous entry RE: NACR I hate going to shows by myself. I've outright REFUSED to go if no one else was going with me. I have missed Echo and the Bunnymen, The Sisters of Mercy, Peaches, and Saul Williams (to name a few) because of this habit. The second and third habits are aggravating for several reasons... the most prominent being STRESS. I stress myself out to the point of nausea and panic over getting to a concert on time- or in most cases LONG BEFORE time. This wouldn't be so bad- if EVERY musician would ACTUALLY go on when the ticket stub indicated. This is never the case, however, because musicians are artists... and artists are never on time.
A few months ago, I noticed that a man named Les Claypool had created and was headlining a concept show or "Mutated Mini Fest" called "The Oddity Faire". The line up was interesting... featuring Les Claypool, O'Death, Saul Williams, and Secret Chiefs 3. I jumped at the chance to see Saul Williams having been very mad at myself for not going to see him back at Irving Plaza a little less than a year ago, I didn't REALLY know the other performers that well... so I hopped onto Pandora and created a station specifically planting the artist seeds. I liked what I heard. On a whim- I got onto the Amex presale and bought ONE TICKET. That's right. ONE. I'll be damned if I miss Saul Williams again because no one would want to go. Besides, the show is GA if anybody does decide to go- they can buy their own damn ticket. Well... no one wanted to go.
FLASH FORWARD>>> It's Saturday night in NYC. I have decided that even though the show IS GA, that I will show up an hour after "Doors open". Consider it a social experiment. I wasn't losing anything because I am not particularly obsessed with any of the performers, and I managed to GAIN something in the process- My Sanity. I refused to get stressed out and worried. It was a little after 730 when I entered terminal 5. Secret Chiefs 3 were already on (and I was OK)! The place was pretty packed but since I was alone I was able to stake claim in a VERY decent spot on the second level directly behind the sound booth. It was GREAT! No one was blocking my view AND I even had a ledge to lean on! The only slightly annoying part was the chatterboxes around me. Turns out they're even more annoying when you're flying solo.
Secret Chiefs 3 were... interesting. The all donned hooded black robes. Only the fiddler and guitarist fully committed to keeping the hoods down for the entire show. Very freaky effect regardless. It made me think that if Death and all of its reapers decided to play music when they're not ferrying the dead into the underworld... they may actually make music that sounded like this. The non-lyrical soundscapes were intriguing and managed to stay relevant and engaging for the most part.
In between acts were the Coney Island Side Show. Eh. As a NYer I'm far too desensitized to be impressed by a guy hammering a nail into his sinuses or a woman playing with a snake. Heather Holiday the sword swallower was pretty cool though.
O'death came on next. Now, I've heard their name kicking around the block several times over. After seeing them live they are certainly a band I will never forget. They were so knock your socks off awesome that I am currently purchasing their album from itunes as we speak. Utterly awesome and electrifying set with everything I come to expect from a good ole country goth-ish band- including the BANJO (which, incidentally, is GROSSLY underused in today's music). What a stellar and truly inspiring performance...
Then, the moment I had been chomping at the bit for all evening, Saul Williams and his crew finally emerge. Holy Shit. They were unreal.. he opened with "Guns by Computer" (his incredible dub over NIN's HYPERPOWER)... and didn't stop kicking ass the rest of the show. It seemed he barely BREATHED for the speed of the lyrics spilling out of his lips. I was in shock, really. I couldn't BELIEVE I ever let going to a show alone stop me from seeing this man. Then, as the sheer enchantment and guttural emotion finally began to wear off... the piano notes rang out... and I knew before it even really began I was about to hear "Black Stacey" my favorite Saul song thus far... I know on a molecular level it's completely inappropriate for I, the whitest of the whitest white girls to lip sync the words... especially the chorus "I think I'm too black do you think I'm to black I think I'm too black-a-black-a-bla-ah-ahhh" but damn it- I couldn't help myself! He's THAT GOOD. He also did a very visceral rendition of Bjork's "Declare Your Independence". For the last song of the set he invited his 10 year old niece out on stage and she danced and rocked out... even singing the lyrics herself at points. Man, she's got the coolest uncle in tha world. My only real complaint was... the set was WAY too short... I certainly had a sampling of the great and cool as hell Saul Williams, I WILL see him perform again.
Les Claypool was the next and last performer of the night. What's funny is, he was the headliner yet he was the one musician I knew the least about. I mean, I know he's been touted as one of the world's finest & greatest bass players, that he wrote the theme for South Park, and is/was the frontman of Primus, but that is literally all I knew about him. Well, now I know more about the musical enigma that is Les Claypool. As soon as he and his band of musicians emerged from the depths of the curtains, I knew we were all in for a treat. Donning three piece monkey suits and bewildering masks the show begins. I don't know ANY of his music, honestly, but everyone in the place became immediately entranced. The masses of human flesh below began to writhe and shake. Mosh pits formed out of nowhere without any sense or reason. Lighters, cellphones, and the infamous smoke clouds began to appear from all over the arena. The music itself was the source of the intoxication... it was mesmerizing. I was intrigued...still am. I came to the conclusion that if I ever decide to make a film, Les Claypool shall be the composer for the soundtrack. His auditory soundscapes were a trip. Definitely worth an itunes purchase.
I broke a cardinal rule/habit... which was to leave the concert early... as cool as Les was (and no doubt, still is) the novelty of flying solo at a show wore off, and I found myself lonely... I went gallevanting around NYC guilt free of the sin against the concert Gods I had committed.
Ooooh I am such a rule breaker.