Les Claypool Hosts Super-Steamer Hatters Ball

Les Claypool hosts his annual New Year's Eve concert at the Fillmore.

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Les Claypool hosts the Super Steamer Hatter's Ball at the Fillmore in SF on New Year's Eve 2009.
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Five contestants were selected from the sold-out crowd to compete in the hat contest.
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This bobble head derby made by Phillie Estrada from Southern California was my favorite.
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Les Claypool seemed to like it as well, here pointing out the Skeeter in the back.
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Here's a close up view of the fishing Skeeter in the back on the hat.
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Andy Kostuik came down from Canada for the fourth year in a row to spend the night with Claypool and friends.
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Kostuik made a "Fish Bowl Bowler" for the night's festivities.
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The hat had a little fish that would dance around inside the hat, sometimes resting on Kostuik's nest of hair.
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In the dark, the hat was easy to spot.
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Pan laughs while Les Claypool tries to figure out what his hat is all about.
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Pan and Jessica before the contest.
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For the first prize of the night, Claypool gave away a Snuggie.
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Zahedi Guerra won the Sunggie with his mushroom hat.
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Guerra said he spent "38 hours of stitching and gluing and stuff" to make the hat. I think it will go perfectly with his new Snuggie!
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The top of the hat had a figure of Les Claypool playing bass sitting atop of the mushroom chillin' with a grasshopper.
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For second place, Claypool gave away a Bass (fish) Wine Bottle Holder.
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Phillie Estrada, aka. "Pork Soda," took second place with his bobble-head hat that he spent six hours creating.
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Cullen Gray won top honors with his rendition of D's Diner, a Sebastopol, CA eatery immortalized by a Claypool song of the same name.
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Gray's hat won him a chance to jam with Claypool and band on stage at the end of the show when he played the Whamola, a crazy single-string instrument played with a drumstick, to perfection intimidating and delighting Claypool.
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Les Claypool took the stage around 10:45 p.m. dressed as a funky steam engine conductor bathed in smoke and colored light.
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Fans at the sold-out Fillmore went crazy as their bass playing guitar hero took the stage (well, most seemed excited).
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Skerik from Critter's Buggin and Dead Kenny G's fame played horn with Claypool on New Year's Eve.
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Sam Bass from LOOP!STATION played cello.
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Mike Dillon from Critters Buggin and Garage A Trois played vibraphone Thursday night, Dec. 31, 2009.
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Claypool as the night's conductor.
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Paulo Baldi was behind the drum kit for the night.
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The band members all wore crazy masks with railroad overalls looking like a group of misfit mechanics behind their conductor.
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Les Claypool had train films and videos running on a screen behind him all night long.
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Balloons hung over the audience awaiting the stroke of midnight.
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Skerik has played a few New Year's Eve shows with Claypool over the years.
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Two cardboard cutouts of trains spewed steam/smoke for most of the night leaving Claypool in a haze for much of the show.
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After the smoke cleared, you could see one of the trains at one end of the stage with the conductor in the middle of his maniac mechanic musicians.
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Skerik tries to hitch a ride.
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Luckily, not everyone was wearing a big crazy hat, because I'm sure standing behind one for the duration of the show would kind of suck.
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Shortly before midnight, Claypool grabbed the stand-up electric bass.
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Look familiar? This pig mask matches the bobble head hat from the second place contest winner.
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Mike Dillion pounding it out.
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Skerik blows off some steam.
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Conductor Claypool leads the charge.
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As the clock struck twelve, balloons fell and covered the crowd.
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People in the balcony were even able to get in on the action.
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Gabby La La grabs a balloon.
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Sticking with the theme, the band busted into Ozzy Osbourne's Crazy Train and then Locomotive Breath by Jethro Tull as the balloons fell, bounced, and popped.
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Santa took the stage to help out with the midnight shenanigans.
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The space in-between the stage and the crowd filled with balloons that the people in front row helped to toss back into the audience.
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Some people have speculated that Claypool will call it quits after next year's 20th Annual NYE extravaganza. He didn't say anything eluding to that, but he did say he was excited about next year.
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When Santa's beard fell, you could see what looked to be Bryan Kehoe from Prawnsong band M.I.R.V. and The Kehoe Nation.
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Flor Salinas (front) and Robin Signorelli wore matching hats, cheering and chugging sparkling apple/cranberry juice to welcome 2010.
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Kehoe played guitar for the last song of the set.
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Mike Dillon cheers on Claypool.
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Some of the Fillmore bouncers put up their dukes.
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Watch out Les, that train is a coming!
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Gabby La La played some sitar at the end of the show. She also played in a band "Kit 'N' Tenders" upstairs before the show started.
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I loved the train videos all night long. Very different, and totally going with the theme of the night. Nice touch!
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Claypool is heading out on the road in February to Colorado and Arizona. He will also play Lake Tahoe, CA and Eugene, OR before taking his show to the people of Europe in March, 2010.
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Here's a look at the Event Tee...
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As guests entered the Fillmore, a cool assemblage of oddities greeted them surrounding the famous Fillmore apples that are almost always there for the taking.
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Fillmore greeter Tim Gundlach welcomed patrons as he has done for nine years now. Gundlach said working New Year's is "one of the best days of the year!"
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Eric Schoneberger of San Jose made a beer hat in about an hour. "Drank a case, made a hat."
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This was Dustin and Jenny Burton's first NYE with Claypool. Dustin spent six hours with a buddy making this Antipop hat. "I wanna drum with Les, that's why I did this." Unfortunately he wasn't in the contest, but maybe next year...
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Melissa Caldwell (right) quizzes Zahedi Guerra about his hat making skillz. Caldwell had a cool flower hat that took her "20 minutes... You can see the duct tape if you look."
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Here's a view of these hats with the assistance of a flash.
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This was Dawn Benjamin's 5th NYE show with Claypool. She drove in from West. Sacramento.
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Irradessa (left) and Skeye hung out upstairs where the triple-decker hat wouldn't block the views.
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Raymund Strecow (right) from Stocton, CA had been working on these hats since Halloween. The one he was wearing still had wet glow-in-the-dark paint on it. Klara van Steyn from South West Germany wore the other one.
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It was too loud for me to get this woman's name (we'll call her Alex), but for me it was her eye makeup, not her hat, that made this outfit pop.
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Keeping with the Stanley Kubrick theme, these masked marauders had at least one cool hat in their group, on the right covered in googly eyes.
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Chris Nichols came down from McKinleyville, CA up in Humboldt County for his first trip to the Fillmore. In 1992, I came down from Eureka, CA for the first NYE show with Primus, The Melvins, and Humboldt's Mr. Bungle. Good times...
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Chris Moretti pulls down his Primus shirt to show off his Skeeter tattoos.
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I caught Gen Isis from Ashland, OR on the stairs and had to take a picture of what looked like the smallest hat of the night.
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Helen Tran (left) and Jacquey Moretti take the wide-brim approach.
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Richard Karevoll from SF spent six hours making this "Beansprout Dancefloor" hat that looked more like the Thunderdome to me.
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The Barbie Party Hat was worn by Renee Young from Ukiah, CA who'd never heard of Les Claypool before and was very excited to see what the fuss was all about. John Gearty from SF on the other hand is a big fan.
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(Left to right) Lisa Hutchinson, Gabby La La, Chaney Smith and Theresa Hughes caught in a brief moment of calm.
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Jennifer Donnellan from San Rafael wore a "Pomp and Slinky Stance" hat for her 5th NYE with Claypool. Donnellan said she spent "two pain-staking days with my glue gun."
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Here's a look at Pomp & Slinky Stance with no flash... pretty cool!
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When asked how many NYE shows Ben Michael from Georgetown, CA had been to he said, "Too many to count!"
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Philippe Rochette of Montreal, Canada is a electrician in town with Cirque du Soliel and came out to see Les Claypool for his first time (he had seen Primus two times before).
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Veronica shows off her beautiful peacock feather hat. She was also temporarily in town to work on OVO.
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A group of people from Cirque du Soleil's OVO made it out to the show Thursday night. (From left) Veronica and Alycia Riri work in the props department. Gersh who donned a dreidel hat, is a carpenter and Francois-Guillaume Leblanc is a clown in the show, OVO, running in SF until Jan. 24, 2010 and then in San Jose from Feb. 4 to March 7, 2010.
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Christie Steighner came up from LA with her cityscape hat with topped with flying airplanes.
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Gazelle Javantash (third from left in red) contacted me after seeing a picture of her and her friend "cheersing" Les in my Claypool Cellars story. Check it out if you haven't seen it yet... http://www.nbcbayarea.com/enjoy-this/Les-Claypool-Wine-Soiree-71722692.html
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Neil Zaky of Menlo Park got front and center for his first Les Claypool New Year's Eve show.
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Alec Nystrom thinks he should have put blocks of cheese on his hat to more closely embody the Sailing the Seas of Cheese homage.
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Santa compares bellies with an expecting Mrs. Claus.
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I don't think many people saw this hat, especially the top of it, and I just loved the little railroad track with a train rumbling down. Nice work Lisa Hutchinson!
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Opening band Khi Darag was great!
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Khi Darag had nine people on stage playing cool Middle-Eastern sounding tunes.
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Khi Darag is from San Francisco and I hope to see them again in 2010. Their next shows are at Hotel Utah on Feb. 13, and Amnesia on April 30, 2010.
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Being a long-time fan of Secret Chiefs 3, I was excited and surprised to see a band that could now be compared to them.
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The horn section reminded me of the first Primus New Year's Eve show back in 1992 when Mr. Bungle opened for Primus at the Bill Graham Civic in SF. (Although no Mike Patton shoe peeing antics at this performance.)
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This show marked the release of Khi Darag's "first 7-song EP, originally recorded at the band's inception in May of 2008. In addition to being available at shows, the EP will be made available and local hot spot Aquarius Records, and online on CDBaby and LastFMlcom."
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Before the show, Kit 'N' Tenders played upstairs.
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Gabby La La plays with The UkuLady as Kit 'n' Tenders and from their Myspace page it looks like they are a comedy band like Flight of the Conchords and Gilda Radner. Unfortunately, I didn't get to hear more than 30 seconds of their set... next time!
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The Fillmore put up a few of the old Les Claypool NYE show posters for all to see.
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