by Pongo Templeton.
The Warfield, San Francisco, CA, USA. March 3, 2001.
Openers: Nondescript jam bands Boomshank and the B-Side Players
Twas a magical night in the Warfield Theater. It's truly a great place, old-fashioned balconies and nice, airy atmosphere. I arrived late enough to catch the end of Boomshank and endure the B-Side Players. I purchased a Live Frogs CD, returned and saw a familiar-looking bald drummer toying with a drum-set onstage. Then, after half an hour, Les, clad in his customary antiquated military garb, odd hat, and joke glasses, took the stage with the brigade. It's going to be a good one tonight, he said. Just thought I'd let you know. He nodded at Eenor, and they hopped into Thela Hun Ginjeet, which stirred up a mosh pit, prompting Les to say I'm glad you're having fun, but respect the people around you, especially those of you in the mosh pit. Things died down, but every time he returned to the main bass line it started up again. He was a sight, bounding around with his tasseled epaulettes and the frills on his chest bobbing up and down.
How does a thirty-seven year old man hop up and down for so long?
Then Sgt. Pepper/A Little Help From My Friends keyboardist Jeff Chimenti filling in for absent saxophonist Skerik which is fast becoming their theme song. Jay Lane, who was sporting a bull/pig's mask sang A Little Help with altered lyrics such as, Are you sad because you're on your own/Fuck no! I get by with a little help from my friends.
Ken Brooks played saxophone during Climbing Up the Ladder.
Shattering Song: the second best song of the night. The bass was much clearer than the relatively muted sound from the album. During the heavy parts the mosh pit opened up so Les had to say Ya know, I see a couple of boneheads, and we don't want boneheads. Respect the people around you. This is the last time I'm going to say this. Brian Kehoe, (and it's rumored that MIRV himself is somewhere in the building) was introduced and proceeded to shred.
16 Shells From a Thirty Ought Six. Boring. But I knew what other song they would do on the upright, and that was Hendershot, which included a truly marvelous solo by Eenor, after which Les asked a bespectacled man Mr. Carney, I hear you know something about surf saxophone. Can you give us a sample well, more than a sample, how about a slab? The song ended with El Sobrante called him Hendershot. Berkeley called him Hendershot, and so forth.
Hair, a Larry Graham song, had the most outrageous bass line. People did what may best be described as grooving; a gentleman called Houseman provided some vocals. I only same some' because Les stopped him in the middle with Hey Houseman, Houseman, Houseman, let me, let me tell you something: I say it's not fair to judge Houseman by the length of his hair. Houseman looked suitably baffled.
Highball with the Devil: not as heavy as the album track. And Les played the acoustic guitar parts on his bass. I had hoped for the audience to sing along at the end, like the album, but alas! Les did the you brought this upon yourself, my boy, in a Scotch grandmother sort of voice.
Ah yes, the greatest song of the night. Whamola. Jay played a techno/dance like beat on the drums and Les called bring out El Whamola-stick! or something to that effect, and was presented, on a laced pillow, what looked like a long metal rod with one string. The Whamola Stick has the best sound I have ever heard, akin to an electric razor being sawed in half. Les smacked it to death with his drumstick. DJ Disk added to the techno/dance feel and very suddenly Buckethead robot-ed on stage and soloed.
2000 Light Years Away a quieter song; left of Eenor, and therefore barely onstage, wandered a hunched man with a large black jacket and an electric guitar. It was Adam Gates (AKA Bob C Cock), though I could barely hear him. Les saw him and stumbled over, mouth hanging open, and played with him for a bit. And Brian Kehoe played with his teeth.
Shine on You Crazy Diamond Both Herb and Jay on this one. A truly wonderful rendition, the bright white lights completely illuminating the audience every time Les sang the chorus.
Then they left. People started chanting Les, and he came back, singing, Come on, kiddies, gather round there's a new sensation in the town, it's called the Frog Brigade A-heuh-heuh A-heuh-hueh It's called the Frog Brigade.
Taxman This version was pretty sloppy. Jerry Cantrell joined. (Is this the only song he ever comes on for?). But after Eenor, Buckethead, Todd Huth, and Brian Kehoe, he wasn't too impressive.
Tomorrow Never Knows This is the part in the show I like to call the clusterfuck. It's where we get every possible musician from backstage on for your entertainment. And what a clustery fuck it was. There was one bassist, one keyboardist, two drummers, two saxophonists, one yaili tambour player, five guitarists MIRV finally came on and one DJ.
The song ended with people just each of the musicians walking off, one by one, starting with Les, who pointed at the audience repeatedy before doing so. In the end it was Jay and Herb playing in unison with an odd, looped note in the background.