If Hendrix were a weirdo-SoCal resident dressed up with a KFC carry-out container on his head, he’d have been Buckethead. The masked performer has been releasing albums since the early nineties, a ridiculous number. But since no two recordings sound all that similar, there’s actually a reason for such output. With a wild variety of sounds coming from Buckethead and whoever he’s decided to include as his backing group, the guitarist’s core audience is any manner of stoic music geek interested in collaborations with the funk cognoscenti, to some stoner metal-heads who get off at seeing a bucket-wearing gear-hound play arpeggios. Early on during the guitarist’s career, he was already reasonably renowned for shredding and tapped to join Praxis, which included bassist Bootsy Collins, keyboard player Bernie Worrell and Primus’ drummer Brain. The recordings that ensued reined in some of Buckethead’s more indulgent inclinations, resulting in the band’s ability to smoothly assimilate the guitarist’s soloing, the rhythm section’s funk and a handful of dub. The concoction, on paper, sounds like a number of other ill-fated super groups and countless crossover attempts. But a balance is struck on tracks like “Dead Man Walking,” which retains a nervy sense of aggression while mining deeply grooved rhythms. Praxis still functions, sporadically issuing recordings, performing whenever the time seems proper. When he’s not surrounded by the twentieth century’s best-known funk players, Buckethead’s musical ideas occasionally become unfocused, convoluted. The “Population Override” album is ample proof of that with forays into guitar balladry and keyboard solos. Recording concerns aside, getting the chance to watch a proficient technician on any instrument is worth one’s time and money. Watching a gangly guy dressed up like a circus-geek playing metal solos, though, is just top-tier entertainment. (Dave Cantor)
July 31 at the Vic, 3145 North Sheffield, (773)472-0449. 7pm. $25. All ages.