Live Review: The Aristocrats @ Masquerade, Atlanta, GA. – July 24, 2013


Featuring Guthrie Govan (Steven Wilson, Asia/GPS), Bryan Beller (Dethklok, Steve Vai, Joe Satriani) and Marco Minnemann (Necrophagist, Kreator, Adrian Belew, UKZ, Steven Wilson)

Review by Alex Moore

An assortment of figurines and rubber farm animals adorned the Purgatory stage at Masquerade, as an audience as varied and eclectic as the evening’s performers eagerly awaited jazz-rock-fusion group The Aristocrats’ first show in Atlanta after a two-year absence.


The evening began with a performance by improvisational jazz group, The Yeti Trio. Guitarist Vaylor Trucks introduced himself and bandmates Eric Sanders and Brooks Smith before sheepishly stating that the group was, “…all perfectly terrified to be sharing the stage with The Aristocrats.” While opening up for a group of musicians as established as The Aristocrats is no easy task, The Yeti Trio’s Grateful Dead style jams did an excellent job of warming up the crowd. Tracks such as, “The Spazzy Lump,” and 15 minute long set closer, “Bonk him on the Noggin With a Wrench, Jim,” proved that what the group offered in complexity and technique, they matched with good-natured humor.


After a brief intermission, world-renowned musicians Guthrie Govan, Bryan Beller and Marco Minnemann, better known collectively as The Aristocrats, appeared onstage to massive fanfare from the exuberant crowd. Mere moments after the set began, it became apparent that the three virtuosos were equally excited as those who assembled to watch the performance. In between songs, the group regaled those in attendance with origin stories of nearly each song played throughout the course of the show. “Ohhhh Noooo,” for example, came from guitarist Guthrie Govan dropping and breaking an amp before a gig. Instead of shouting or cursing, drummer Marco Minnemann noted, Govan merely looked down and calmly proclaimed, “Oh no! This isn’t good. In fact, this is quite simply the opposite of good.”


Compositions from the newly released Culture Clash meshed well with selections from the group’s previous albums. New track “Louisville Stomp,” for instance, excellently complemented “Flatlands” from the group’s self-titled debut album. Instruments were periodically set aside in favor of rubber pigs and chickens — a clever nod to the Culture Clash album cover — which the group picked up and played with just as much precision as their native instruments.


An hour and a half into the set, the crowd was just as fervent as when the first note was played. Smiling and shaking their heads in amusement, the trio concluded their set with “Erotic Cakes” from Guthrie Govan’s solo album of the same name. Between Beller’s jazzy bass lines, Govan’s exquisite guitar phrasing and Minnemann’s delicate drum fills, The Aristocrats truly are musicians’ musicians. An evening of insightful stories and masterfully crafted music, The Aristocrats put on a worthwhile performance capable of enjoyment by fans of nearly any musical genre.


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