UPDATE 8/5/20: After video of “I Am Oysterhead” from the first-ever Oysterhead show surfaced online last week, additional footage of the supergroup’s debut performance on May 4th, 2000 at New Orleans’ Saenger Theatre has now been uploaded. The updated video now features footage of the set-closing debut of “Pseudo Suicide”—which featured Les Claypool quotes of Primus‘ “Jerry Was A Race Car Driver” and Phish‘s “Reba”—in addition to the show-opening “I Am Oysterhead.”
As videographer Adam Sblendorio notes in the video’s description, the video “still has my brutal hand-held mini DV camcorder videography and did not have footage of second half of ‘Psuedo Suicide’ so spliced in some other cuts from the night so as to not cut the video short during the song. It’s a band-aid but best I could do.” [Note: We’ll take it!]
Along with the added “Pseudo Suicide” footage, Sblendorio has uploaded some footage of Garage A Trois‘ performance featuring Mike Dillon at the Saenger Theatre before Oysterhead hit the stage on 5/4/00. Watch both the newly surfaced Oysterhead footage and video of the Garage A Trois set below:
Oysterhead – “I Am Oysterhead” (Debut), “Pseudo Suicide” (Debut) – 5/4/20
Garage A Trois – 5/4/20 [Partial]
[Originally published 7/28/20]: There’s a certain aura of mystique around the word Oysterhead in the jam scene—and for good reason. The supergroup comprised of Primus bassist Les Claypool, Phish guitarist Trey Anastasio, and Police drummer Stewart Copeland mainly existed for a brief moment in time with exception of a one-off 2006 reunion and a pandemic-shortened reunion in early 2020, which wound up amounting to a mere pair of shows in Colorado. Oysterhead’s brief moment in the sun began with a late-night affair in New Orleans during Jazz Fest at the Saenger Theatre on May 4th, 2000. While audio from the show has circulated for years, some video from that fateful first Oysterhead show has now surfaced on YouTube for what is believed to be the first time.
The supergroup’s beginnings can be traced to the founders of Superfly, 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 proposed to ask one of their musical heroes in Copeland to join them. Rather than rely on covers or even originals from their respective bands, Claypool, Anastasio, and Copeland wrote a bunch of new music for the show and put it all on the line for their debut performance.
The debut itself was something remarkable. Following a stellar set by Garage A Trois, the new supergroup 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 Suicide” and “Mr. Oysterhead” that would later be featured on their LP.
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. The group delivered a one-off reunion at Bonnaroo in 2006, and returned to action earlier this year with two performances at Denver’s 1STBANK Center in February. Although they had a number of headlining festival performances scheduled for the summer of 2020, the still-spreading coronavirus had other plans. Many of the dates have been rescheduled to 2021, so there is some Oysterhead to look forward to in the future, but this video from the band’s debut performance finally coming to light surely helps ease the pain of the lost 2020 dates.
As videographer Adam Sblendorio explains, “Just found this in a box of old Mini DV tapes that I’ve been slowly digitizing. … I only had a handheld mini DV camcorder so saying the video is rough is very generous. … I was just someone with a handheld camcorder having a good time. … But it was a time before smart phones and I haven’t seen any other video from that night surface…so I thought I’d throw it up for people to see.”
Below, check out the newly surfaced video from the first-ever Oysterhead show, which showcases the band’s show-opening mission statement, “I Am Oysterhead”, which remains the only live rendition of the song by the trio. As Claypool noted to start the song, the show, and the story of Oysterhead as a whole, “I would like to take this opportunity to welcome each and every one of you to something you have probably never experienced before: the pure, unadulterated, audio sodomy known as Oysterhead.”
Oysterhead – “I Am Oysterhead” (Debut) – 5/4/2000
[Video: Adam Sblendorio]
Setlist: Oysterhead | Saenger Theatre | New Orleans, LA | 5/4/00
SET 1: I Am Oysterhead , Mr. Oysterhead , Jam > Rubberneck Lions , Owner of the World , Happiness in My Pants , Wildwood Weed  > Sinkin’ Down , Pseudo Suicide 
ENCORE: Immigrant Song , The Israelites , All Day and All of the Night , House of the Rising Sun 
 Oysterhead debut.
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 quotes of Jerry Was a Race Car Driver and Reba. All three musicians wore white jumpsuits for this performance. As this was the first public performance of Oysterhead, all songs were Oysterhead debuts.