Les Claypool’s Fearless Flying Frog Brigade• w/ Fishbone• May 23, 2023• Red Butte Garden
Reviewed and Photographed by Alisha Gregson
Tuesday, May 23, marked the opening night for the Red Butte Garden Outdoor Concert Series. Les Claypool’s Fearless Flying Frog Brigade and supporting band Fishbone brought their Summer Of Green Tour to the gardens. The sold-out show ended up being an exciting way to start off what is expected to be an incredible summer of concerts at the venue.
Red Butte Garden
Red Butte is a favorite concert venue for many local music lovers. The beautiful setting and their impressive concert lineup always draw in a fun crowd. The outdoor concert series has grown immensely since it began in 1987 when it hosted 4 summer concerts. Now, in 2023 they will host 30 shows, with artists like Pat Benatar, Boz, Scaggs, Jason Isbell, and the 400 unit, and Train.
When I arrived at the venue the first thing I noticed was a long line of people still waiting outside. The doors were set to open over an hour earlier. I knew the opening band was scheduled to play soon. It had been raining for a couple of hours. On my drive over to the venue, I wondered how the weather might affect the concert. Minutes after I got there they opened the doors and started letting everyone onto the lawn. After the rain delay, fans were eager to find a good spot and lay their blankets out. Others went straight for the merch line that stayed fairly long throughout the night.
Many people brought food and drinks and sat with friends chatting as the lawn filled in. I was impressed with the staff at Red Butte. They all worked quickly and efficiently to get everything ready to go and make up for the delay. We didn’t have to wait long for the show to get started.
First to take the stage was Los Angeles-based rock band Fishbone. They got their start in 1979, and have been entertaining fans with their eclectic style ever since. They combine elements of rock, ska, punk, funk, reggae, and soul as their music takes listeners on a high-energy ride. There was excitement in the air as eager music lovers watched the band take their places. Fishbone began their first song “I Like to Hide Behind My Glasses”. With that, the outdoor concert series had officially begun.
Frontman Angelo Moore danced across the stage with ease and confidence. All eyes in the audience were locked on him. Trying to anticipate his next move as he jumped around, alternating between a collection of saxophones of varying sizes. His captivating stage presence was matched by his powerful vocals and talented horn playing. It was impossible not to enjoy the performance.
Moore led the band through their 9-song setlist. Highlights from their performance included “Everyday Sunshine,” “Ma and Pa,” and “Alcoholic.” Fishbone kept it exciting for the crowd and easily got them on their feet dancing. By the time they played their last song “Party at Ground Zero,” fans were in good spirits and ready for the headliners.
Les Claypool’s Fearless Flying Frog Brigade
After a 20-year break, fans were excited to see Les Claypool’s Fearless Flying Frog Brigade back on stage. Their current Summer of Green Tour will take the band across the country to play 40 stops each night, including a full top-to-bottom performance of Pink Floyd’s iconic album “Animals.”
Les Claypool who is best known as the founder, bassist, and lead singer of the band Primus, was joined on stage by guitarist Sean Ono Lennon (son of John Lennon & Yoko Ono), keyboardist Harry Waters (son of Pink Floyd’s Roger Waters,) drummer Paulo Baldi, and percussionist Mike Dillon. Sean Lennon, who bears a striking resemblance to his father, has previously worked with Les Claypool as his counterpart in The Claypool Lennon Delirium. I heard fans who had previously seen Claypool and Lennon perform together, chat about how excited they were to see them once again.
Les Claypool and the Fearless Flying Frog Brigade, started strong with an incredible cover of King Crimson’s “Thela Hun Ginjeet.” Claypool apologized to the crowd for his less enthusiastic dancing than normal. He explained that he hurt his foot with a bowling ball and was unable to move as much as he wanted. He then mentioned that he includes a sketch on his set list for each concert and that evening’s sketch would be inspired by the bowling ball injury. The first half of their set included a couple of original songs, “David Makalaster,” and “Buzzards of Green Hill,” from their 2002 Purple Onion album, as well as The Claypool Lennon Delirium original song, “Cricket And The Genie.”
When it was time for the much anticipated Pink Floyd Animal portion of the evening, they brought their jam band style to make the songs their own. The musical improv masters fed off each other and the energy of the crowd as they played through the entire album. Harry Waters has had plenty of experience performing Pink Floyd songs for a crowd as he has been touring with his dad since 2002. Adding to the already unique energy of the performance, Claypool rotated through a few different animal masks. They kept the audience in a trance-like state as they played the entire album. Concertgoers gathered around the stage, dancing and enjoying the chill, yet exciting energy the music evoked.
After concluding their Pink Floyd covers, they visited a few more originals from the Purple Onion album, including “Whamola” and “D’s Diner.” The concert was nearing the end, and the energy from the crowd was at an all-time high as fans danced near the stage and throughout the lawn. They ended the night perfectly with “Cosmic Highway,” with Angelo Moore from Fishbone back on stage to join them. As fans were leaving the venue they were raving about how impressed they were with the band. It ended up being an excellent concert, and a great start to the outdoor concert series. I am already looking forward to returning to Red Butte for another concert shortly.