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Les Claypool “Fancy” DVD Review

Published in Blog Archive, Culture Bully. Tags: , .

It would be nice to think that Les Claypool is becoming more accessible, both personality-wise and musically, but fortunate for his fans he’s not. If anything the Fancy Band is a step in a completely opposite direction from a possible stab for mainstream attention that some may feel he should attempt; again, let’s be thankful he’s gone the way he has. Chances are you’ve heard Les Claypool somewhere these last few years without even thinking about it, whether it be his “Whamola” introduction to South Park or his contributions to Robot Chicken on the Cartoon Network, and again I’m sure that the majority of his fans are thankful all the same that Claypool has defied becoming a household name.

Fancy, his latest solo DVD, is compiled from live footage from his Fancy Band’s 2006 summer tour; all from the fan’s perspective using footage shot from the crowd. Not quite as elaborate as last year’s Primusartumentary Blame it on the Fish, but far more enjoyable and entertaining as a whole.

The scattered performances, shot from Austin to New York, cover not simply tracks from last year’s Of Whales and Woe, but rather projects from all throughout Claypool’s history; the Holy Mackerel, the Frog Brigade and even Colonel Claypool’s Bucket of Bernie Brains. While the footage is advantageous in that it captures the live, sometimes unexpected, energy from the likes of Mike Dillon and his xylophonedoing so comes at the cost of continuity. Part of the charm of seeing Claypool (especially so with the Fancy Band) is the spontaneous element of surprise that the band provides and to some extent that is lost in the clip-friendly DVD. Plus, almost to spite itself, the focus was taken far away from Claypool’s infamous washtub bass like whamola which typically creates the most sonic moments of the performance.

If mainstream popularity or accessibility means continually giving into the demands of your fans (again, no whamola?) Claypool will never be either. His songs are difficult, rigid and exactly the type of music that he feels happy making. While this may be Claypool is nonetheless successful in that he provokes his audience, asking them for their trust and for the most part he gets what his vision demands. And after two decades worth of evidence showing that he is popular by his own right Fancy is simply another vehicle for which he demonstrates this.