Photos: Adam Miszewski
Oysterhead was unlikely to begin with... so what does that make a reunion nearly 15 years later?
Whether following along at home or packed inside in the sold-out 1st Bank Center in Broomfield, CO, it's hard not to feel nostalgic for something so fleeting, yet so singular. Listen to a few notes of the music, or take a deep dive into these photos, and those memories come crashing back.
So-called "supergroups" like Oysterhead by design are intended to push the audience's buttons. Most are an oddly inorganic collection of talents, but especially in this case, it's a collection of personalities that are truly iconic, all seemingly emerging out of separate musical realms.
The reclusive outsider, Stewart Copeland. The rhythmic foundation of one of the biggest bands in the land once-upon-a-time, he's been less visible since The Police broke up in the 80's -- even before the ascendance of his bandmates. He is a legitimate musical hero to both of them.
Les Claypool is a musician who is distinctly himself. But while his music never reached the same mass-market, he's a hero, too: to outcasts, weirdos and folks who just love a guy who can slam that bass.
But realistically, this musical cocktail doesn't have the kick without Trey Anastasio and the passion of Phish nation. From the moment the reunion was announced, excitement about seeing this side of Trey, driven by these unlikely collaborators sent his fans into a frenzy. While Oysterhead was on few people's lips prior to the announcement, in the weeks between the announcement and the trio hitting the stage it was the talk of the proverbial town.
And when the three hit the stage together, they become something else entirely. Bolstered by their ridiculous name and power-trio heart, they are simultaneously steady, wild, and passionate. Truly a thing unto itself.
Over two nights in Colorado, the trio blazed through the tunes on the 2001's Grand Pecking Order, the document which fueled their earlier tours.
These songs underpinned what was the Oysterhead brand -- anthemic choruses ("Mr. Oysterhead", anyone?), crazy mini-jams, and audiovisual inventiveness like Anastasio's bad-ass, whammy-fied Matterhorn antler guitar. Yep, that's still a thing.
They took some liberties, spinning the material into two sets, and even giving Copeland a chance from the band (with Anastasio behind the kit) for "Wield The Spade".
What's most intriguing? They are still adding to legend. The band debuted five songs over the weekend, with tunes sourced from their pre-Oysterhead projects.
From Phish, "46 Days" and "First Tube"...
Primus' "Those Damned Blue Collar Tweakers" and "Voices Inside My Head" by The Police.
And the piece-de-resisteance, Cream's "White Room", very much cribbing from the super-group power trio playbook.
After the weekend, we knew they'd be back with additional dates already dribbling out. But for our Chicago readers, they'll even be closer than we thought, with two shows at the Aragon, April 22nd and 23rd going on sale this week.
Are we looking at more of the same... or will the legend, and iconography of Oysterhead continue to grow?
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