I never had the chance to see drummer Marco Minnemann and guitarist Guthrie Govan perform with The Aristocrats, although I’ve seen them perform live as members of Steven Wilson’s solo band. I was also very curious how bassist Bryan Beller would play and sound like because this would be the first time I would see him live. I had the honour to interview all members of the band right before their gig, you can listen to the interview here.
The venue was pretty crowded, a lot of people came to see this band which is great. The venue played music from Led Zeppelin half an hour before the band would play. The stage was nicely illuminated and made Marco’s green glitter-coated drum kit extra shiny. The music became louder and a song with a lot of brass sounds got played right before the band members entered the stage. The audience gave a big cheer when all three members showed up. They grabbed their instruments while the music was still playing and to my surprise they started to play along with the track!
The band plays a variety of music styles (from rock to fusion) and are technically very gifted. Marco is a very energetic drummer that plays tough and fast. He even uses the side panels, which are located next to his drum kit as an ‘extension’! He even stands up from time to time and does tricks with his drum sticks. Guthrie is a brilliant guitarist to watch and knows how to do great solos. Bryan ‘dances’ on the rhythm of the music and is the band member who is the most observant to his colleagues while playing.
The band members talked a lot between the tracks, from which most speeches were held by Bryan. Every track that they played has its own true story, which was very intriguing. They named the tracks after certain events and situations each band member encountered, which led them to inspiration. Bryan, who put on a cowboy hat in the meantime, told the story about a woman who accused him for damaging her car while he was parking his truck, which led to inspiration for the track Texas Crazypants. During that track Bryan also played on a snare drum that was temporary on stage. After Texas Crazypants Marco told that they were going to play the track Pressure Relieve, a track that contains a keyboard part. Marco promised the audience that he will try play the keyboard part with a keyboard simulator on his iPhone and play drums at the same time. While the band played the track Culture Clash there was a weird loud bang (probably a blown up speaker but I’m not sure), leaving both band and audience a bit confused. The band still continued to play and at the end of the song Bryan joked that they could better change the track name into ‘Culture Crash’. After playing Louisville Stomp one of the crew members came on stage and gave Guthrie and Marco a beer, and Bryan a glass of orange juice. Guthrie grabbed a toy pig from his amp and showed it to the audience, told that the pig’s name was Oink and that the band was going to play ‘ballad’ track Pig’s Day Off. Not much later the ballad turned into a very rough track. Marco introduced the next song called Desert Tornado, a song that was inspired by a dangerous situation. Marco continued his story and told he was practicing drums at home in California, but he had to leave his house because he got warned by a tornado alarm because a tornado was heading towards his town. During Desert Tornado Marco Minnemann gave away a brilliant drum solo including a lot of tricks with his drumsticks. Before the band played Smuggler’s Corridor Bryan and Marco asked the audience that they had to sing along. They gave instructions to the crowd on what they wanted them to sing. The people in the audience were a bit shy in the first place, but after a few rehearsals the crowd really opened up and started to sing loudly. After Smuggler’s Corridor Bryan thanked the audience, the venue and the personnel. Bryan also announced that they were going to play the last track The Kentucky Meat Shower. Guthrie told the story about a ‘meat shower’ which occurred in a little town in Kentucky, a weird phenomenon.
Before the band was going to play the encore track Get It Like That Bryan held a speech again. He had a surprise for one of his crew members, named Kip. Bryan told the audience that he gave an iPod as a present for Kip, containing a lot of songs. He wanted that Kip played a certain song over the system of the venue, which he did. The audience laughed when the song got played, it was a Dutch children’s song about a chicken, which of course means ‘kip’ in Dutch. When the audience and band was finally calmed down the band started to play their last track. The band members had to contain themselves because Get It Like That has almost the same chords as the chicken song that was played before this track. Marco and Guthrie were very sneaky and sometimes played certain pieces of the ‘chicken song’ anyway, making Bryan a bit grumpy and laugh at the same time.
This was one of the most hilarious gigs I’ve ever seen. This band is everything except boring. The guys can play tremendously but also have a lot of humour. I really recommend to see this band live. I hope I can see them live again soon because they are fun to watch!
The Aristocrats are:
Bryan Beller – Bass guitars and snare drum
Guthrie Govan – Guitars
Marco Minnemann – Drums & Percussion
Culture Clash (or Crash)
Pig’s Day Off
Desert Tornado (including drum solo)
The Kentucky Meat shower
Kippenlied (Chicken Song)
Get It Like That
You can read my review on Background Magazine:
All photos by me.