Riffs and Laughs: Brendon Small co-hosts ‘Baked’ Music/Comedy night in Hollywood

Review & photos by Ron Lyon

August 25th 2017, Hollywood Improv, Los Angeles CA: On a sold-out Friday night, the Hollywood Improv presented “Baked”, a night of comedy and music hosted by Brendon Small, creator of the virtual death metal band Dethklok. This was the second Baked event I was fortunate to attend. The first for me was at the intimate Baked Potato jazz club in Studio City. That night, an unannounced appearance of actor/comedian Jack Black thrilled the attendees and highlighted the night of laughs and music. Would we be so lucky this night? As in the previous show, Small co-headlined the night with comedian Steve Agee and used the opportunity as a record release for his second solo album, ‘Galaktikon II: Become The Storm’. Small himself is quite funny and very comfortable with a microphone in his hands. The evening’s house band was made up of the cream of LA area musicians: Dethklok touring guitarist and keyboard player Mike Keneally (Joe Satriani/Frank Zappa), multi-talented Walter Ino (Survivor) on bass, and Zappa vaultmeister Joe Travers (Zappa Plays Zappa/ Duran Duran) on drums.

As the band got set to begin, Small made quite a few jokes about the non-compliant keyboard and house engineer. After the purposeful fumbling of instruments, tuning issues, and horrific starts to classic songs, all to the laughter of the loose but excited audience members, which included Dethlok’s Bryan Beller and Galaktikon producer/engineer/mixer Ulrich Wild, the band launched into an intricate and inspiring version of ‘Led Boots’ by Jeff Beck. Beck’s guitar playing, it was noted, was a personal inspiration for both Kennealy and Small, and one they could connect on when first getting together. After finishing the song, Small then introduced the night’s first surprise guest, actor/comedian and friend Zach Galafianakis, to the shocked and welcoming audience. He did about 10 minutes of very funny and awkward material. The band then returned with comedian/actor Tom Lennon (Reno 911) who played guitar on a version of Stevie Ray Vaughan’s ‘Texas Flood’. Lennon, aware of the timeliness of the song issued an apology to those in Texas now facing those very real threats. Following that, Small announced the night’s second guest comedian, David Cross. To great applause, Cross spent the next 10 minutes turning a laughing, adoring crowd into a handwringing and squeamish lot with his take on child care. Dangerously funny.

The evening’s final segment saw Agee return to the stage, spend a few minutes reacquainting with the crowd, then grab his guitar and launch into ‘Earache My Eye’ from the Cheech & Chong Wedding Album. This band can do no wrong. The final guests on this night were Anthrax guitarist Scott Ian and Pearl Aday. After a bit of tuning up and some more of the non-stop comedy banter between the players, Ino began the pulsing bass line of ‘Whipping Post’, for which Aday belted out with some welcomed Southern soul, and Small and Ian taking turns on lead guitar solos.

Before anyone could yell out for an encore, Ian and Aday left the stage, but Small and co. were not yet finished. The evening’s final song was ‘Thunderhorse’, arguably there most famous song from the debut album by Dethlok and which appeared on Guitar Hero II.

As for entertainment, this night in a Hollywood comedy club had just about everything you could ask for.

For yet more entertainment and to play slot machines, visit Royal Vegas

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