Some legends are made. Some drop to Earth from a chicken coop forever floating in one of Saturn’s rings. Buckethead, as we Earth dwellers call him, graced us with a visit on this evening, materializing at center stage between two amp stacks, each topped with a bust of Caesar. Wearing his trademark mask and white chicken bucket, he came in peace, yet was armed with a pristine white Les Paul that shone like a beacon and may have doubled as a phaser from the heavens.
His mission was simple: to provide the needy with sonic relief from the mundane uses of an average guitar. He was here to not only stretch the limits of his bright white axe towards the far end of unreachable realms but to translate his alien knowledge into an interplanetary guide to guitar mastery. He began by teaching discipline with every downstroke, continued with a stripped-clean dissection of scales and finished with a footnote of fun. The “heads” were hooked.
The legend of the bucket, the obsession with chicken and the mystery behind the man were on my mind as I mentally prepared for the show, but these thoughts were soon cast aside for astonishment and exhaustion. There he was, alone on stage with a guitar prowess that obliterated any challenge a genre could throw at him. There were heavy blues jams, jazz fusion romps, and rock shredding with the most amazing finger tapping I’ve ever seen, reminding me of butterflies landing on power lines.
At times there was bizarre toggle-switch noodling that butted heads with a supersonic run that would make Yngwie Malmsteen pack up and go home. There was Thin Lizzy crunch that bled into an ethereal mix of light strumming and chords thumped out to sound like early ‘80s video game soundtracks. The crowd lost track of the techniques he slaughtered, all played to a backing track that he missed not one note of. It is impossible to categorize Buckethead’s music, because, quite simply his style is everything ever attempted on six strings.
The evening was not all wanking up and down a Gibson neck, though. Buckethead fills the gaps with an exhibition of his nunchuk mastery, he dances the robot with large foam hands on, and does a toy exchange with the front row faithful. Yet he never says a word. He leaves all communication for this planet, and those he will visit next, up to one gleaming white guitar.