That 1 Guy, Hard Rock Cafe on The Strip, Las Vegas, NV – 10/28
Poised for a large national tour supporting international remix DJ/VJ Pogo before immigration issues cancelled his involvement, That 1 Guy found himself in a familiar predicament – a man alone with his pipe. His Magic Pipe to be specific, a 7-foot-tall hardwired steel pipe & stand adorned with bass strings, sound effects doodads and looping pedals. Undeterred by Pogo‘s removal from the bill he would soldier on solo to honor most of the dates, including a gig in his adopted home of Las Vegas, becoming perhaps the most unlikely Strip headliner since a gaggle of French-Canadian acrobats first set up shop in a casino showroom. That 1 Guy absorbed the energy of a dozen or so front-row fanatics, recycled it and offered it back to the remaining audience members in an effort to welcome them into his flock of cultish followers.
Similar in sound and scrawny build to related progressive artists Les Claypool and Buckethead (the latter of which he has collaborated with on record,) you’re either going to be in on the joke or not. The one-man-band also known as Mike Silverman is an enigma wrapped in a riddle, flowing with current and ensconced in metal. A few songs into his live set creeps in the feeling That 1 Guy’s a one-trick-pony, when he’s really a classically-trained bassist just scratching the surface of his musical madness. He plays the same one contraption for almost his entire 90-minute show, but each song literally reveals a new bell or whistle emanating off the homemade instrument. His lyrics, despite being nonsensical ramblings about bananas and mustaches, still leave you hanging on each spoke-sung rap and wackadoo chorus. Sometime around his “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” solo on the Magic Saw (an amplified handsaw), card tricks (mid-song!), and freeform percussive jam on the Magic Boot (you get the theme,) you’re either a full-fledged convert or you‘ve already left.
Titles like “The Moon is Disgusting (It’s Made Out of Cheese),” the aforementioned “Mustaches” and his one semi-hit “Buttmachine” (featured in an episode of “Weeds”,) form the frameworks for choruses, but each verse seems interchangeable with the one before or after. As strains of juvenile absurdist poetry his lyrics don’t inspire a lot of sing-a-longs, but Silverman manages to keep the proceedings funky enough that it’s not entirely distracting. Frequently during his loop setting he howls a signature coyote call to the crowd, a mass referred to incessantly but lovingly as “Friends.” The whole shtick reeks of the bullied music geek getting the last laugh, but darn it if he still doesn’t win you over once you’ve muscled past the inanity. It’s impossible not to feel empathy for the “That 1 Guy” character, with his closed-eye smiles and cadre of dorky magic tricks, so much so that his post-show autograph signing felt more like a natural extension of the encore, “Weasel Potpie,” than some requisite glad-handing.
Local octet Token Brass Band opened the show in New Orleans style, which while it clashed with the avant-garde nature of the headliner they at least appeared to attract their own legion of fans to the gig. Doing their best to rile up the mostly empty hall in the earliest parts of the evening, the band mixed Bourbon Street classics like “Feet Don’t Fail Me Now” with newer covers in the vein of Galactic’s “Crazyhorse Mongoose.” Perhaps acknowledging that they wouldn’t have been on the bill without a Pogo paperwork snafu, each song began and ended with gracious thank-yous to the audience and co-promoters the Hard Rock Café and Las Vegas Jam Band Society.