After Colma, I picked up Buckethead’s Monsters and Robots, then I dipped into the guitar great’s back catalog and have been following along since.
I discovered Buckethead was not only a guitar virtuoso, but also one of the most creative musicians out there.
As the years past, Buckethead crept up my list of guitar greats I had yet to see.
I’ve seen Eric Clapton, Buddy Guy, Zakk Wylde, Dimedag Darrell, Alexi Lahio, and Magic Red, but never saw Buckethead.
Finally, on September 22, 2011 at State Theater in St. Petersburg, Florida, I had the chance to finally see the bucketed one live. And outside of two minor complaints, he didn’t disappoint.
Seeing Buckethead is visual experience as well as a musical treat. After his stage was prepared by a dreded tech in a hospital mask, Buckethead took the stage with his trademark KFC bucket on his head and dressed in black. Immediately he started his guitar wizardry with his fingers flying up and down the fret board. I’ll admit, I am not good at memorizing the titles of instrumental songs, but I recognized a few songs from his classics Monsters and Robots and Giant Robot.
Buckethead is also part Carrot Top in his show. The dreded tech placed several toys on Buckethead’s amp and speakers for the guitarist to play with during the show. These included a hand-held distorting mirror (like those in an amusement park House of Mirrors), a toy chainsaw, and of course Buckethead’s nunchucks.
Seeing Buckethead whip his nunchucks to and fro was a treat I looked forward to. As was seeing Bucket put down the guitar and dance like a robot on stage. These are things Buckethead is known for. Of course all the while he kept his bucket and Michael Myers mask in place.
Halfway through the performance the theme song from the movie Space Jam played and Buckethead walked to the front of the stage with a big blue bag. He reached in the bag and started handing out toys to the fans. Buckethead gave out Halloween masks, Star Wars toys, action figures, and other assorted goodies.
I was surprised however when the toy giveaway turned into a toy exchange and fans gave Buckethead gifts as well. If Buckethead saw something he liked, he simply traded toys with the fan.
Speaking of Star Wars, Buckethead is a huge Star Wars fan. As of course, I am. Needless to say, when he played the Star Wars theme song and the Imperial March, I got goosebumps. For real.
One of the strangest things about a Buckethead concert is seeing an artist that looks completely emotionless. That’s his schtick and being a big fan, I get it. But to not see an artist smile, laugh, or talk on stage is an interesting phenomenon. The emotion of the show comes strictly from his music or the crowd.
This lack of emotion is part of one of my complaints. The show was only and hour and 45 minutes long. That’s it. Granted, I’m not sure even I could have withstood three hours of guitar shredding, but not even two hours? It went by quick. And when he was done, Buckethead simply walked off stage. No bow, no cheering the fans, no thank yous. He just walked off as if his programing was finished and he had something else to do.
My other small gripe: Buckethead’s t-shirt selection was awfully small. There was only one t-shirt for sale. And not only did it not have the tour dates on it, but it was an ugly white design.
Oh well, I guess that’s another reason for me to visit Buckethead’s Toy Store. I hope they have a clothing department.
Here is a video a fan took of Buckethead’s performance Thursday night.
It might seem hypocritical for me to post this video and then complain, but I’ll have an opinion piece soon on the absolute annoying trend of people who hold their phones up to video record entire concerts. You can enjoy the music without being a cinematographer. Trust me, it’s possible.