Once I nearly suffocated because I wanted to see this dude wearing a KFC chicken bucket on his head play fancy guitar.
Guns N’ Roses will always be one of my favorite bands. I grew up on Guns and Roses – my mom rode bitch in the Chosen Few, the largest US biker gang after the Hell’s Angels. And if you are remotely affiliated with a biker gang, you figuratively eat Guns N’ Roses for breakfast. And after you settle down to raise a family, you figuratively feed Guns N’ Roses to your children, apparently.
I didn’t have the chance to see the original G&R myself, but guitar virtuoso Brian Patrick Carroll (aka Buckethead) went on tour with them from 2000 to 2004 and did the original music serious justice. Music experts herald Buckethead as one of the most talented electric guitarists of our time, and I was super excited when my friend Robert invited me along to see Buckethead do his solo act live.
The night of the show we got to the venue, Neumos, a little early. We waited until well past the time the show was supposed to start, when someone finally made an announcement that the tour bus had been in an accident. Luckily everybody was OK, but the show was going to be delayed for even longer while a new vehicle was acquired.
Meanwhile, someone on staff thought it was a good idea to let some young woman inexplicably wearing a *cow costume* with an acoustic guitar attempt to please the crowd for a while. Cow Lady admitted straight off the bat that she was no guitar expert, and had in fact only recently begun actually *learning* how to play the guitar.
She was incredibly brave, but also incredibly terrible at playing guitar.
Cow Lady knew no more than three chords. The guy that got famous covering La Bamba got away with only playing three chords, but to a crowd of people excited to see Buckethead completely wow us with his profound guitar knowledge and ability to do amazing things with said instrument, such an act is simply not OK. Cow Lady did not please the crowd. Cow Lady made the crowd Angry.
She finally stopped, and then we all stood around getting increasingly antsy. An hour or so later, the guy who was actually scheduled to open for Buckethead got on stage.
Thankfully, this guy actually knew what he was doing. Opening Act Guy did admittedly interesting things with a looper pedal, but as Robert said, Opening Act Guy was still “somehow extremely unlikable.” After six or seven songs, he got off the stage and we waited some more.
But then Opening Act Guy did something more unforgivable than Cow Lady. He came back on stage and re-played some of the SAME SONGS HE HAD JUST PLAYED.
At this point the crowd was LIVID. That is like first rule of concerts! You don’t repeat songs! He was more or less Booed off the stage and into oblivion.
Finally after another hour or so, past midnight at this point, Buckethead finally entered the stage all in a rush and *immediately* began wowing us with his amazing guitar skills. With his music, Buckethead took the fuel of five hours of anticipation, let down, anger, and frustration and ignited a fire in the minds of those gathered.
The crowd lost its collective shit and became violent.
Now, I’ve seen violent mosh pits before. Take the time I saw Nile: the mosh pit was so violent and unpredictable that one of my friends, fearing for his life, turned around to leave and was promptly punched in the face, breaking his glasses.
No, the scariest part about the Buckethead mosh pit is that everyone was pressing So. Hard. Forward that tiny people like me were perma-plastered against the sweaty backs of the people in front of us, unable to breathe.
When you can’t breathe, it doesn’t take long before the panic sets in and you become convinced you will perish while a man wearing a creepy mask and fried chicken bucket serenades your ignoble death. Periodically, I was able to get my hands in front of myself and push back to gasp in a mouthful of air, but I half-suffocated for some time. Days, it felt like. It was probably more like five or ten minutes, but however long it was, my oxygen levels depleted to worryingly low levels.
Eventually, the people in the back of crowd stopped feeling the need to pulverize the people in the front of the crowd into Mashed People and released their death grip. I was able to flee to the back of the room, and proceeded to lean against the back wall so no one could sneak up on me.
Buckethead did play some really amazing guitar. The guy knows how to shred, and even did some pop and lock breakdancing with Nunchucks. I had forgotten about that tidbit – Robert had to remind me.
My near-death aside, boy did Buckethead put on a good show. 100% would see again.