Everybody loves songs about weasel pot pies and meat raining down from the sky, particularly when they’re performed on a homemade 7-foot-tall instrument called The Magic Pipe and delivered in a style that recalls Frank Zappa, Les Claypool and Captain Beefheart. OK, maybe not everybody, but enough to keep Mike Silverman, aka That 1 Guy, on the road for some 150 to 200 shows a year.
One of the less likely signings to Ani DiFranco’s Righteous Babe label, Silverman last year released his seventh studio album, Set the Controls for the Heart of the Buttnoggin, a title that should give you a pretty good idea of what you’re in for. The standout track is an 11-minute magnum opus called “Buttnoggin vs. That 1 Guy a Post Psychedelic Techno Fantasy in 6 Parts.”
Onstage, the musician’s Frankensteinian assemblage of complicated electronics, sturdy metal pipes and orchestral bass strings produces a remarkable range of sounds and textures, enabling him to show off the same convoluted displays of dexterity that he indulged in with Buckethead on their Bolt On Neck album.
After some two decades of touring, Silverman recently decided to lighten his load on the road, replacing his old steel pipes with shiny aluminum ones, and losing a hundred pounds or so in the process. He’s also added complementary contraptions like The Magic Saw, a bowed instrument that sounds like the wobbly theremins used in old science fiction movies.
And as if all that weren’t enough, he’s begun doing magic tricks onstage. Because everybody loves magic tricks.