(Artwork care of Karen Ramsay (www.karenramsay.com), profile photo care of brianlackeyphotography.com)

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Concert review - Funkma$ter, That 1 Guy

29 April 2009 (Hodi's Half Note, Ft. Collins CO)
Another pleasant surprise. I happened to be looking at Hodi's calendar and the description for That 1 Guy sounded so interesting that I had to check it out. I am so glad I did. The short and sweet review? If possible, see That 1 Guy live!

The opening act was a local one man band calling himself Funkma$ter. He also happens to be the percussion player for local band Euforquestra. He spent his set fenced into a tight cockpit of equipment, creating loops incorporating drums, keyboards, bass, guitar, percussion, and vocals. Most of his songs were covers, like James Brown's Get on the Good Foot and Dr. Dre's Let me Ride. Since he makes it a point not to use any samples, he even recreated the P-Funk sample of Star Child that Dr. Dre uses on that tune. He also played a couple of Cuban percussion-centered pieces.

Funkma$ter is a competent musician who's adept at more instruments than I am. But his looping approach reduces to a technical exercise in assembly and mixing. So, it misses out on much of the show that an looper like Keller Williams or Arthur Lee Land can create.

That 1 Guy
When it comes to That 1 Guy's show, you really have to see it to believe it. From the moment he took the stage and unveiled the Magic Pipe, I knew this was going to be special. Almost immediately, we were all baptized into a techno-tribal/modern primitive rite that lasted for the rest of the night. About the pipe...That 1 Guy got his start as an upright bass player. Eventually, his experiments in percussive playing and solo performance motivated him to get really creative. Creative enough to envision and build this unique instrument that features two long sections of pipe, each with a bass string, linked together with a series of movable joints. The pipes are also festooned with synthesizer triggers that he can hit to get drum sounds or play samples. The pipes themselves can be played with the hands, a bow, drumsticks or whatever else he can find.

Watching him play the Magic Pipe was astounding as he capered around, grimaced, and frenetically attacked the pipes. But that wasn't enough for him, he was also surrounded by a set of kick-drum pedals wired to additional sample triggers. So, sometimes the beat was synthesizer based and other times he drummed on the pipe. He also had a few other tricks up his sleeve, like his Magic Cowboy Boot and his amplified musical saw.

Musically, this all fit together to cover a range of styles. At one point, we'd be in rave mode, feeling the bass and percussion beat through our bodies, then things would shift into more of a Primus/Beefheart jerky syncopation. A bowed bass sound might get transformed by a ring modulator into a distorted metal guitar grind. Over the Rainbow on musical saw and then Black Sabbath's Iron Man. Despite the random nature of this, it all flowed.

The cool toys, incredible stage energy, and wild music could have been enough to make a memorable show. "But wait, there's more", as he often tossed out during a brief lull. That 1 Guy has the natural instinct of a true entertainer. Aside from his expressive physique, he incorporated a lot of wonderful touches that kept the crowd rapt. He'd gesture with one hand (while the other was tweaking the pipe) and you'd swear his shaking free hand was making the sound on its own. He threw in a number of minor magic tricks that fit together with the music (glowing lights appearing and flickering, making cards appear and levitate). He had a street performer's sense of how to "play big" and keep even the back of the crowd engaged.

That 1 Guy's vocal style drifts from Stan Ridgeway (Wall of Voodoo) irony, through Peter Murphy (Bauhaus) gothic moan, to Iggy Pop growl. You can hear musical influences from Captain Beefheart and Primus. Some of the material also reminds me a lot of Mike Kineally's work in terms of meter and absurd lyrics that sound more than they mean. He played a lot of songs from his most recent album, The Moon is Disgusting. The title track was a high point point in the show, with it's free association rhyming:
The honey tastes sweeter when you anger the bees,
The moon is disgusting, it's made of cheese
Other high points included Weasel Pot Pie and Buttmachine. As you can see from the videos, watching him work the Magic Pipe is hypnotic. I'll let you search for Rainbow to track down his musical saw work. The show was full of surprises and originality. Most of the crowd was already familiar with him from his last tour with Buckethead, so their energy combined with his. The bass and drums beat through my body, the floor shook beneath my feet from the dancing, and the lunacy filled my heart and head with joy. I'd pair this up with absinthe and try to figure out That 1 Guy's lyrics.

I also picked up The Moon is Disgusting and gave that a spin. Rather than write a separate review, I'll just mention a couple of notes. Overall, the CD presents the songs well. Although it can't begin to capture his live energy, it's a great listen. Oddly enough, it's not mixed to be as bass heavy as I would have expected. The title cut is fun, as is Buttmachine, but the peak experience is the raga-like psychedelic trance of Rainbow.

More photos on my flickr.


  1. hey, that 1 guy is opening for porcupine tree this along with kings x. sounds like a good time.........

  2. That would be an awesome show, although I'm not quite sure about the flow;-)