Napoleon Dynamite would have been proud of Buckethead last Saturday night at the Rialto. The enigmatic and brilliant guitar virtuoso not only showed off his amazing six-string abilities, but he also displayed some estimable nunchaku skills.
Although adept at a variety of instruments, Buckethead (né Brian Carroll) is best-known for his guitar chops and the stylistic breadth of his playing. He's equally at home in the realms of prog, thrash metal, jazz fusion, avant-garde, electronica, funk and hip-hop. He has made dozens of his albums under his own name and has been a guest on some 50 others.
Buckethead is perhaps equally known for his unique sartorial style, appearing in a creepy white mask and an upside-down KFC bucket as a chapeau. However, he wore a plain white plastic bucket at the Rialto, as well as a simple blue jumpsuit that emphasized his lanky frame and those long, spider-like hands that seemed to cover half the fretboard.
He performed solo against recorded rhythm tracks. It might've been nice to see him interact with a band, as his collaborators over the years have included Bill Laswell, Bootsy Collins, Serj Tankian, Viggo Mortensen and, briefly, Guns N' Roses. But most of the assembled throng were there to get their faces melted off by Buckethead's guitar-playing, and he delivered, sounding like Buck Dharma one minute, and then Eddie Hazel, Kerry King or Jeff Beck the next. And Buckethead didn't just shred for shredding's sake; his explosive solos and expansive leads maintained melody and compositional clarity.
Buckethead never spoke, but when he briefly set aside his all-white, custom-designed Les Paul guitar, he twirled the 'chuks, played with a rubber chicken, danced the robot and handed out toys to the audience like some alien Santa Claus.
The evening opened with a set by one-man-band That 1 Guy (aka Mike Silverman), who performed on an 8-foot-high instrument of his own creation dubbed "the magic pipe," which he fabricated from metal pipes, two strings and multiple electronic triggers (to alter pitch or emit sampled sounds)--it resembled a cross between a harp, an upright bass and a jungle gym. A classically trained double bassist, Silverman strummed, pounded on, caressed and slapped at his ax, yammering a stream of nonsensical, funky doggerel.