There’s a certain aura of mystique around the word Oysterhead in the jam scene. It’s for good reason too, as the supergroup comprised of Primus bassist Les Claypool, Phish guitarist Trey Anastasio, and Police drummer Stewart Copeland only existed for a brief moment in time. In fact, that moment began on this day in 2000, when the trio hit the stage at the Saenger Theatre in New Orleans, LA.
The band’s humble beginnings can be traced to the Superfly promoters, who asked Claypool to assemble an all-star lineup for a supergroup performance in New Orleans. Claypool contacted Anastasio, who agreed to the new group, and the two also agreed to ask their hero, Copeland, to join them. Rather than rely on covers or even originals from their respective bands, the trio wrote a bunch of new music for the show and put it all on the line for their debut performance.
Eventually, the group would record The Grand Pecking Order, featuring four songs debuted in NOLA and nine more originals written for the album. The band toured in 2001 but went their separate ways after the run. Aside from one reunion in 2006, which took place at the Superfly-organized Bonnaroo festival, the band has yet to perform again, though they have talked about wanting to get together.
The debut itself was something remarkable, as the band performed in white jumpsuits and gathered a number of high-profile guests in the audience, like Matt Groening, Francis Ford Coppola, and Jon Fishman (the band dedicated “Owner Of The World” to the Phish drummer during their set). The show was mostly originals, including tunes like “Pseudo Science” and “Mr. Oysterhead” that would later be featured on their LP.
On the anniversary of the band’s magical debut, listen to how it all went down below:
Oysterhead – 5/4/2000 – Saenger Theatre
Setlist: Oysterhead | Saenger Theatre | New Orleans, LA | 5/4/2000
Set 1: I Am Oysterhead, Mr. Oysterhead, Jam > Rubberneck Lions, Owner of the World, Blue Ginger, Happiness in My Pants > Wildwood Weed > Happiness in My Pants, Sinkin’ Down, Pseudo Suicide
Encore: Immigrant Song, The Israelites, All Day and All of the Night, House of the Rising Sun
 Oysterhead debut.
 Oysterhead debut; dedicated to Fishman.
Notes: This debut Oysterhead performance was part of the “Superfly Presents” annual series that runs concurrent the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival. “Owner of the World” was dedicated to Fish, who ran on stage and bowed. “Pseudo Suicide” included lyrical quotes from Primus’ “Jerry Was a Race Car Driver” and Phish’s “Reba.” All three musicians were wearing white jumpsuits. As this was the first public performance of Oysterhead, all songs are Oysterhead debuts.