Showbox, Seattle, WA

Brian Patrick Carroll is the mysterious guitar virtuoso we all have come to know simply as Buckethead. His live tours have slowed recently, however, this was my second time seeing him perform in Seattle, including last year’s solo show at The Neptune.

It was a pretty packed house at the Showbox, for an evening with the eccentric musical genius, and I was surprised to see a drum kit and bass cabinets making a very clean and simple stage set up. The last time he performed it was strictly a solo act.

He brought along drummer extraordinaire Bryan “Brain” Mantia of Primus, Guns N’ Roses, Praxis fame; and bassist Del Monti, known by his stage name Del Rey Brewer, or just simply “Brewer” rounded out Buckethead’s touring band. Brewer has produced and played bass on several Buckethead releases and is also the lead guitarist for Serj Tankian’s touring band.

As the lights dimmed, Brain and Brewer took the stage while Buckethead’s tech guided him down the backstage stairs and up to the stage. He was holding his white Gibson Les Paul and a stuffed, masked dummy which he placed on a chair beside his amplifiers. It really must be a challenge to see through that expressionless white mask and the iconic KFC bucket on his head.

He was wearing his Chicago Bulls #23 basketball jersey, Michael Jordan’s number. And there was no mistaking his 6’ 6” height, his tall, lanky frame making Brain and Brewer seem a little vertically challenged.

The trio began their shredding by immediately ripping into “Jowls.” The fluid nature of Buckethead’s playing and the simple ease of it was such a contrast to what seemed like the blind man being led to the stage. It is no wonder he has received such critical acclaim for his innovation and guitar skills.  His fingers flew with jaw-dropping dexterity over the fretboard at a blinding speed. It was in stark contrast his physical movement as he contorted in a robotic dance.

The musicianship amongst the band members was, without a doubt, mind-boggling. Puzzlingly, within 30 minutes of playing, Brewer announced they were going to take a short 20-minute break. Huh? That was unexpected. But I guess with Buckethead you should expect the unexpected.

After the intermission, the trio returned to start the next set with “Welcome to Buckethead land,” then “Turbine” combined familiar riffs from “My Name Is Mud” and “Outlaw.”

Overall it was an extended musical note-taking assignment through the vast catalog of music Buckethead has released. With an impressive 302 album releases, it is a wonder how he even picks a set list. From lightning guitar solos to slow and beautiful ambient tracks, the entire performance was a great display of musical diversity.

The second set seemed to flow into almost an hour-long piece. Before the last song, Buckethead stopped to hand out a variety of toys to members in the crowd from his giant bag of goodies. Ending the evening with “MetaMatic,” the band left the stage with the crowd screaming for more. Chants and screams for their return went on for a few minutes until the house lights came up and the bewildered audience realized that was about the slickest exit ever.

Buckethead Set List
Gory Head Stump
Night of the Slunk
Revenge of the Double-Man
Welcome to Buckethead Land
Turbine 3x
WuTang – Fannie May
Cheese Slice
Nerd (Outlaw)
Brain Vibes / Nottingham Lace
Want Some Slaw

Review and photos by Neil Lim Sang