Last updated on July 14th, 2023 at 01:11 pm
A few in attendance mentioned they were more familiar with openers The Budos Band than with The Frog Brigade. I always take this as a good sign, indicating a stacked bill, and more value for the ticket price.
Tickets were indeed highly valued, and not easy to find that evening. Some walked up and down the line outside looking to purchase any extra ticket someone might have. The paper in my hand felt a bit like a golden ticket to Wonka’s factory.
As the night progressed, I realized this feeling was not far from the truth. The merch line stretched across The Palace Theater lobby and snaked down the stairs to the bathrooms. Fans patiently waited for the chance to possibly procure a poster or maybe even a bucket hat fashioned in the image of a frog head. This line held its length throughout the opening band’s performance.
The Budos Band, an all-instrumental act hailing from Stanton, New York, took the stage to an eager crowd. Their style encompassed many different sounds, but may best be described as world music, expressing a heavy influence from African and Middle Eastern music.
At times it was psychedelic, keeping the crowd entranced and stagnant, and other times breaking into staccato rhythms and grooves which had most in sight dancing.
A now-packed theater erupted with applause as Les Claypool and the Frog Brigade took the stage. Les sported his signature bowler hat, and vintage suit, the image of a 1940’s gentleman.
Harry Waters (keyboard), son of Roger Waters, Paulo Baldi (drums), formerly of CAKE, and Mike Dillon (percussion) lined the back of the stage all wearing what appeared to be World War 2 amphibious army helmets. John Lennon’s son Sean wore a WW2 officers’ visor while on guitar.
This supergroup marched methodically through a show that was unlike any that I had seen previously. The band sandwiched the entirety of the Pink Floyd album “Animals” between two sections of Les Claypool’s original material.
Following “Pigs on Wing 2” Claypool disappeared, and an electric upright bass appeared in his stead. Moments later he returned to the stage with a new persona.
Wearing a somewhat unsettling pigs mask, he used his double bass bow to point at the crowd, he then commanded his brigade through a stellar performance of “Precipitation.” This dark psychedelic number drove many in the crowd to mindless dance; others added to the stage smoke.
Following “Rumble of the Diesel” was “One Better,” where members of The Budos Band returned to the stage to assist. Then Claypool and The Brigade returned for an encore, donning a disco ball hat and sending a psychedelically well-lubricated crowd off into super-moon St. Paul with a lengthy rendition of Cosmic Highway.