MUSIC: Les Claypool brings the Oddity Faire to the House of Blues

    Hippies and headbangers. Dudes in tie-dye and Metallica tees. Chicks in capes and fellas in top hats — it’s always a carnival of contrasts whenever Les Claypool and his far-flung fan base hits town.
    As frontman for funk/metal/prog rock/kitchen sink oddballs Primus, Claypool has headlined fests as disparate as Lollapalooza and Ozzfest, H.O.R.D.E and now the Oddity Faire, Claypool’s own creation, which he tops himself as part of an eclectic multiband lineup.      
    At the House of Blues on Friday night, the audience was as varied as Claypool’s hard-to-pin-down repertoire, though they were all drawn to the same thing: a cartoon character cum pioneering bass player who’s still one of the more inimitable instrumentalists out there — and I mean way out there.  
    Claypool’s tunes will forever be the definition of an acquired taste, delivered in a nasally, caricature of a voice, his elastic bass lines jumping all over the place, like a needle on a seismograph as an earthquakes hits.
    For his part, Claypool consistently seeks to deflate the high level of technical virtuosity inherent in his works by dressing it all up in a winking, often tongue-in-cheek fantasia of anthropomorphic frogs, bovine and other larger-than-life creations of his perpetually dilated mind’s eye.
    At one point at the House of Blues, dude even donned a pig’s mask.
    But if Claypool doesn’t seem to take himself too seriously, the same can’t be said when it comes to crafting his elaborately constructed output, which is posited on top-shelf playing.
    On this tour, Claypool is backed by a cello player who can make his instrument squeal and roar like an electric guitar, a percussionist prone to some wild xylophone solos and a drummer who deftly weaves a steady beat around Claypool’s freelancing.
    Together, the band culled heavily from Claypool’s new disc, “Of Fungi and Foe,” at the House of Blues, playing everything from Sarah Palin-inspired romp “Red State Girl” to off-kilter waltz “What Would Sir George Martin Do” while sandwiching older solo favorites like “Rumble of the Diesel” in during a sweeping, extended set, which also saw Claypool play a stripped down take on Primus favorite “Those Damned Blur Collar Tweakers.”
    Live, the quirkiness that envelops Claypool’s works grows fangs, as the dense bottom-end that characterizes many of his tunes gains additional heft, balancing the mirth with plenty of muscle.
    It’s still plenty of fun, but, like a game of pickup football in the prison yard, it all comes with its share of bruises as well.

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