Wearing his trademark KFC bucket (logo free) and white mask, Buckethead pushed the limits of the electric guitar to the brink Friday night at the Domino room, before the packed all-ages show. Three of four songs into the set he pretty much demolished all notions I had of the technical limits of the instrument and human musicianship.
But I'll confess that at this point I was starting to wonder how much guitar theatrics I could take. Plus I was getting a little weirded out by the whole chicken bucket hat, serial killer mask shtick.
An hour and half and one Buckethead nun chuk exhibition later, I was still standing in the same spot with my jaw hanging somewhere near the ground.
And by the time he launched into his unreleased track, "Jordan", I was a convert. It was Buckethead's efficiency with his sampling that most impressed me. While we waited for the next spectacular display of virtuosity, he was subtly constructing elaborate compositions with intricate interweaving melodies by sampling and then looping his own playing. One of the shows highlights - nun chuk and break dancing displays notwithstanding - was his collaboration with opener That One Guy. Other highlights included Buckethead communicating with the crowd via hand puppet (although communicating is probably too strong a word) and Buckethead stopping the show to hand out Christmas presents, which included Martian ray guns and, possibly, My Little Pony dolls.
This was bar none the most bizarre music show that I've ever seen. So it was only fitting that a performance defined by Buckethead's super technical mastery would end on a note of technical difficulty when Buckethead's guitar malfunctioned, stranding Buckethead on stage while the drum track marched on. He offered the crowd a silent 'oh well' gesture with his hands and was ushered off the stage by his (also masked) handler - never to appear again. We assume he's back on his home planet by now. Wherever that is. - Ric E. James
To get a taste of the Bucket flip over to the Blender Blog for audio and video clips from Friday's show.