While Colonel Les Claypool's Fearless Flying Frog Brigade was ostensibly performing in support of headliner Galactic, Claypool's band performed a full, 90-minute set that would have been as fine a closer as Galactic's.
With Primus on hiatus, Claypool has been performing with an ever-changing array of side bands. Frog Brigade features original Primus member Todd Huth, former Galactic sax man Skerik, Rat Dog members Jeff Chimenti on keyboards and Jay Lane on drums, and the amazing Eenor on guitar, whom Claypool found by soliciting submissions from around the San Francisco Bay area.
Opening their set with a raucous take on "Thela Hun Gingeet" by King Crimson, Claypool gave notice that this band means business. Then in a light-hearted turnabout they performed "Col. Claypool's Flying Frog Brigade," sung to the tune of "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band."
Headliner Galactic hails from New Orleans, where a funk band either knows how to hit it or quit it. Sinuous, tight, playful and intensely gifted as players, Galactic sounds sometimes like they're playing a beefed-up soundtrack for a '70s porn film, and at others like a retro discotheque band, due in no small part to the fearless use of a vintage Moog synthesizer by keyboard player Richard Vogel.
Vogel's band mates include Robert Mercurio on bass, and stellar drummer Stanton Moore, who together provide the foundation for all this funk. Sax player Ben Ellman is a brilliant soloist and provided the sonic focal point. Guitarist Jeff Raines, an able soloist also, ought to step out front more.
The players were joined for several songs by singer Theryl "The Houseman" deClouet. A talented soul singer, deClouet rose above some minor vocal discomfort and sang well. DeClouet is a very good soul singer, but not a great one. And frankly, this great band soared higher without him onstage.
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