Buckethead @ The Music Box – 12/15/2017
The mysterious masked musician known as Buckethead brought his most recent live tour to The Music Box in San Diego on Friday December 15th. Thankfully joined by other musicians on this trek, Buckethead has for the past several years relied on backing tracks for his solo guitar concerts. This time around the addition of talented musicians Bryan “Brain” Mantia on drums and Dan Monti, known by his stage name Del Rey Brewer on bass, brought a wonderful sense of expressiveness and organic musical jamming that surrounded Buckethead’s always virtuosic guitar shredding. Hundreds of eager fans, many of them wearing their own buckets, waited for hours to get prime spots for the show in front of the stage while others filled out the venues multiple balconies hoping to get the best vantage point to witness the enigmatic performer.
Starting off the set with a short but beautiful flamenco inspired acoustic number, Buckethead seemed completely content to do his own thing, not worrying about pandering to anyone in the audience while taking his die-hard fans along for the ride. Despite starting his set nearly an hour late, the masked guitarist quickly led his band into a set of familiar classics like “Jowls” from the 1996 album Giant Robot. Indeed most of the set seemed to draw from material that Buckethead has recorded with drummer Brain, especially their work in the band Praxis which also featured Bill Laswell, Bernie Worrell and Bootsy Collins. Worrell’s death to cancer in 2016 may have blocked any plans for future Praxis music, but fans can surely hope for some type of reunion. After a brief mid-set intermission the band returned and played several medlies including a brief section of the powerful “Big Sur Moon” from 1998’s Colma.
Brain for his part bashed away on the drums and seemed to be almost psychically linked to any direction Buckthead wanted to go. The two weaved through jamming sections of many songs including a few small samples of Primus classics and even a bit of the Star Wars theme. Del Ray Brewer proved an adept bassist able to keep up with Buckethead’s insane speed while laying down a solid rhythm track. The musician is better known as the engineer on many of Buckethead’s albums as well as for studio work with bands like Slayer and Metallica.
Buckethead is a truly unique performer that somehow blends rock, metal, country, jazz, funk and many other forms of guitar based music into a brand all his own. It’s a fantastic treat that he has continued to tour over recent years and is bringing his creations to life in front of live audiences.