Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Buckethead Chicago 2016 Concert Review

This is going to be a little different in terms of format from how I have gone about doing concert reviews in the past here on Young Ears, Fresh Perspective. The Buckethead concert was not quite what I expected it to be, and not exactly in a fun, cool way.

It took place on 4/25/2016 at the Park West theater in Chicago, IL. It was a nice enough place. Had a bar, places to sit, tables, and a wide spacious area for people to stand near the stage. Anywhere you would have been seated in the venue would have been good enough for you to clearly see what was happening on the stage, which is good considering how some venues just aren't up to snuff in regards to that.

Anyway, when I refer to the show not being what I expected it to be I am talking about the fact that Buckethead ended the show early after only playing a little over an hour. There was a point in the show where there were some technical difficulties being had with Buckethead's guitar rig and the roadie couldn't seem to get it straightened out. This went on for a good 10-15 minutes. Possibly longer than that. The longer it went on, the more I could tell Buckethead was getting frustrated and angry despite the fact he had his trademark white mask covering his face.

Buckethead of course tried to keep the audience entertained and occupied by break dancing, skillfully whipping nunchuks around, moving like a robot with extreme precision to a backing track that sounded like mechanical parts moving around, handing out toys to the audience, shaking hands with the audience, etc. After the roadie couldn't get things straightened out though, Buckethead decided he had had enough and just ended the show right then and there. No real announcement. He just walked off. The lights came back on and his crew started tearing things down on stage.

From here I blame two different people for this:

1. The roadie. The guy kept messing up the whole night. One of the most glaring mistakes he made was when at one point he accidentally knocked over one of Buckethead's guitars mid-show. Unique guitars like Buckethead has are not come by particularly cheaply. I know Buckethead probably has at least some amount of money, but having to replace a guitar like that would probably be a noticeable punch in the pocketbook. In addition to all that, he looked like he had never worked with a guitar rig before judging by the way he was fumbling with all the equipment. I personally hope Buckethead fired him and replaced him already.

2. Buckethead. As a performer myself I completely understand his frustration with the situation. Technical difficulties can be among some of the biggest headaches you can have, especially if they are happening mid-show. That said, I still feel it was a jerk move to end the show altogether when he had an acoustic guitar up on the stage that he could have busted out and played. Buckthead has a ginormous amount of acoustic material in his catalog and he could have played for another 20-30 minutes, leaving the audience perfectly content. Instead people who traveled from several miles around, scheduled things around, and paid good money for got gypped out of the experience they put their cash and hopes toward.

I think Buckethead showed a real lack of artistic integrity in that moment. I understand the fact that his head might not have been in a good place for a moment, but maybe if he had just taken a few minutes to calm down and breathe he would have been in a good enough frame of mind to get back out there and finish what he started and quite frankly owed the audience.

Now that I have that all out of my system though, let's get back onto a more positive note. When Buckethead was playing he did an absolutely PHENOMENAL job. After his four year absence from touring his live playing clearly had not gotten cobwebs on it at all. He ripped through many of his fan favorite songs that I myself had wanted to hear for YEARS from the Guitar Hero II blister-giver Jordan to the haunting Soothsayer to the bouncy Binge and Grab among many others. There were a few tunes I didn't quite recognize, but that isn't surprising considering how many hundreds if not thousands of songs Buckethead has in his catalog.

The stage set up was rather simple. It was just his equipment and then a slide show screen with a Michael Jordan DVD being projected onto it (Buckethead is a HUGE Michael Jordan fan, hence the name of his song Jordan. He was even wearing a Michael Jordan jersey over his cloths due to the fact he was in Chicago). Honestly, I was a little surprised I didn't see the two head statues I've often seen him have in performance videos I've watched. Maybe they were there and I just didn't see them.

Buckethead played along to backing tracks of drums, bass, and occasionally rhythm guitar. I guess it saves him time, money, and effort because he doesn't have to deal with a whole band while out on tour. Considering the fact Buckethead usually seems to like simplicity in his life this doesn't really surprise me at all.

All that said, I would still go see Buckethead again as long as he made sure his gear and employees were up to snuff. It was a great deal of fun to see the macabre chicken bucket adorned guitar god do what he does best. If I got a full show out of him next time he is in town then I will completely forgive him for what happened the other night. I will continue to listen to his music and be a fan. I would still recommend going to see him to anyone who loves guitar based music and wants to see something that is out there and different from the norm.

This Buckethead concert receives 2.75 out of 5 stars.

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