Live: Buckethead at Culture Room, September 21

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With Lynx

Culture Room, Fort Lauderdale

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Better than: Buckethead on Guitar Hero

The enigmatic, avant-garde metal guitarist Buckethead came out to a nearly sold out crowd for the mid-week billing at the Culture Room. Sporting the staple KFC bucket on his head and expressionless mask over his face, the one-man show is a spectacle even before the first note is played. Accompanying him on stage is a screen displaying a low budget Japanese film about fighting robots, his signature Gibson Les Paul and a slew of effect and pedal boards. A backtrack provided a heavy instrumental medley to which the six-string slayer wasted no time in beginning a session of speed fingerings and experimental precision. The testosterone-inclined crowd was packed into the room, and they stood in awe while wave after wave of flawless solos gave way to dark breakdowns and oddly arranged song structures.

There are no choruses, no vocals and certainly no cheap thrills. Having over 34 solo albums and 50 more collaborative efforts, Buckethead truly has nothing to prove beyond being one of the few artists that can entertain a room for nearly 90 minutes simply by flexing his superior ability to manipulate a guitar, remix classic thrash riffs and get away with breaking out pop 'n lock maneuvers to unlikely rock anthems. He caters towards the bizarre, and oddly enough it was not surprising when he set down his guitar to pass out presents to audience members. Of course this all went down while the '90s alien-athletics anthem "Space Jam" blasted though the PA.

Half way through the set, the fretboard looked like it might not be able to take many more mutations of rock dogma featuring the likes of "Foxy Lady" and "Crazy Train." Mitigating the problem for the show-off was simple, he switched axes and picked up a bass guitar. An extended deep funk solo followed that got the crowd riled up. The beauty of the gesture being that even his secondary weapon never hits an awkward moment of repetition. The clinic in how to be a virtuoso came and went much too quickly. Although the prospect of disappointment would usually come with skipping out on returning for an encore, this time around it seemed to be a genuine act reinforcing the character that is Buckethead.

Critic's Notebook

Random Detail: He is very fond of our state's theme park Disney World, and wants to be buried there. Not sure how Walt would feel about that.

The Crowd: Almost entirely male and very attentive to every note played the entire set. For a metal show there was surprisingly not much in the way of movement besides the occasional light head banging.

Overheard: While the roadie plugged in a guitar, "Tune it or die!"

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