Review: ‘Oysterhead’

Oysterhead's debut album, "The Grand Pecking Order," which puts the exceptional skills of those involved at center stage, is a welcome burst of originality and musicianship in a landscape cluttered with studio-created performers.

Oysterhead’s debut album, “The Grand Pecking Order,” which puts the exceptional skills of those involved at center stage, is a welcome burst of originality and musicianship in a landscape cluttered with studio-created performers. This supergroup — comprising arguably the most talented members of Phish, Primus and the Police — failed to transcend the album versions of the songs at its first-ever SoCal date, and for the most part simply stuck to playing numbers as they recorded them. Show felt like a sneak preview of what these guys will eventually accomplish onstage together.

Oysterhead brings together the mind-tripping lead guitar and stoner vocals of Trey Anastasio, the elastic bass guitar and warped voice of Les Claypool and the syncopated, precision drumming of Stewart Copeland, creating an unexpectedly successful marriage.

Other than extending the show opener “Owner of the World,” as well as stretching out for a bit of a jam on the showoff mid-set entry “Rubberneck Lions” (which found Anastasio playing a guitar with built-in deer antlers), the band mostly passed on the chance to turn their many tricky musical phrases into extended excursions, as is expected at Phish shows, for instance.

That said, the concert, which also featured opening act North Mississippi Allstars, was certainly an impressive one. The best Oysterhead songs, like “Rubberneck Lions”; the goofy “Mr. Oysterhead,” which served as encore; and the psychedelic “Polka Dot Rose” used the two vocalists’ contrasting styles, as well as their instrumental inventiveness, to wonderful effect.

Oysterhead performs Nov. 13 and 14 at New York’s Roseland.

Oysterhead

Palladium; 3,835 capacity; $27.75

Production

Presented by Goldenvoice. Reviewed Oct. 27, 2001.

Cast

Band: Trey Anastasio, Les Claypool, Stewart Copeland.
Also appearing: North Mississippi Allstars.
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