Les Claypool’s Fearless Flying Frog Brigade, one of the many creative incarnations of legendary bass player Les Claypool, is touring for the first time in two decades. With over forty cities to visit on the tour and most of them crossed off, Claypool and his Brigade are now in the home stretch of their trek. After playing NYC’s Brooklyn Steel on Sunday, the band landed in New Jersey Tuesday night for a packed show at The Wellmont Theater in Montclair.
The crowd, dressed to the nines in frog hats and frog onesies galore, celebrated the Brigade’s triumphant return as the band took the stage and launched into “Thela Hun Ginjeet.” The King Crimson cover is the same way this Les Claypool project first introduced themselves by way of their 2001 debut live album, “Live Frogs.” In turn, that was the first recorded song I ever heard them play, so it was surreal for it now to also be the first song I’d see the band play live as well.
After Frog tunes “Buzzards of Green Hill” and “Up on the Roof”, the Brigade played “Phantom Patriot,” a Les Claypool solo tune, followed by both movements of The Lennon Claypool Delirium’s “Cricket and the Genie.”
Les Claypool and Sean Lennon have a connection that is as cosmic as it comical, the endearing humor of their banter in between songs a perfect complement to the upbeat and playful nature of the band’s music. Their musical bond was undeniable and their playing top notch. The rest of the Brigade was just as dialed in, taking moments to shine throughout the set as Claypool stepped into the shadows to turn over the spotlight so they could showcase their talents.
After taking a brief intermission, the band returned to perform Pink Floyd’s Animals in its entirety. Their cover of this iconic album had an appearance on Live Frogs too, but hearing it played in person, and as a die hard Pink Floyd fan no less, was a next level experience. They absolutely nailed the album from beginning to end.
Much to my and the crowd’s delight, the night of music didn’t stop when “Pigs on the Wing, Part 2” came to a close. Instead, the Brigade kicked off another set of samplings from various Les Claypool projects with songs like “Calling Kyle” and “Thai Noodles” before closing out the evening with “D’s Diner.”
Les Claypool’s Fearless Flying Frog Brigade will continue their tour through the top of next week before bringing it to a close with an epic Halloween performance in Nashville.
Upon arrival to the photo pit I was delighted to learn that we’d get to shoot during the first 20 minutes of both the first and the second sets. This would give me more than enough time to get what I needed, which I hoped would also give me time to play with double exposures.
The combination of the banner backdrops and the various military hats and helmets worn by the band lent itself well stylistically to my black and white editing style. I spent the whole time I was shooting watching through the viewfinder, which displays in monochrome, and it felt like I was watching an old war film.
The extended time we were given in the pit allowed me to take my time to shoot each band member which definitely paid off in the end. I’d heard that Les Claypool shows can be a challenge to shoot lighting-wise but thankfully I didn’t experience that at all. Perhaps it’s because I’m used to shooting death metal shows, or because I had planned for the light to be minimal and fleeting, but I was thrilled by how stress-free this shoot was.
I was also excited to have plenty of time to play with double exposure, and I ended up with a lot of shots that I liked, particularly the ones with Lennon and Claypool combined like this one:
The experimentation continues on this front but I’m enjoying the process. Next week is Mac Sabbath at Brooklyn Bowl – that show is going to be all sorts of fun, and I’m looking forward to sharing the photos and the experience!