Guitar wizard Buckethead--a masked marauder who, yes, wears a bucket (KFC variety) on his (or her) head--knows darn well that weirdness in this day and age is hardly a precious commodity. Hey, in Hollywood, wearing a bucket on your head is hardly distinguishing, even for a virtuoso musician. So debuting the new band Hook & Pull Gang at the Troubadour on Saturday, he (or she) upped the ante a little.
That would be in the form of Maximum Bob, the singer-ranter of the quartet's mix of disjointed, disturbing lyrics and spoken-word, chunky metal-prog riffing fueled by Buckethead's amazing fret-work, and a regular punctuation of Disneyland musical quotes.
Garbed in a green butcher's apron (lightly splattered with red), white gloves and a manic, glazed expression, Bob (imagine Robin Williams as Charles Manson) proved the perfect foil for the mysterious Mr. (or Ms.) Head. Buckethead has for more than a decade been a cult favorite, collaborating with such respected underground heroes as Bill Laswell, Bootsy Collins and Primus, but has never really found an effective vehicle of his (or her) own.
It's too soon to say whether Hook & Pull is that vehicle or just an amusing distraction. If the latter, it's still worth the effort, at times conjuring the image of Metallica fronted by Captain Beefheart, even if the satirical gruesomeness of Bob's imagery was a bit forced at times. It was no less an act than, say, Marilyn Manson, but at best it was no less art than, say, the Residents--and it was always extra crispy.