For those who have never attended a Green Jelly show, there is nothing quite like it. Their founder and singer, William (Bill) Charles Manspeaker, has "during my whole life," he says, run the metal puppet show known the world over for songs like "The Three Little Pigs" and "Obey the Cowgod." The band sounds deadly serious while being an "udder" parody, a fact that adds to the humor.

As Faygoluvers have shown, Bill has been manning the puppet madness since 1994. With time comes perfection, with even Stepping Out Buffalo praising recent performances in New York.

There have been many copycats over the years, but this theatrical underground genre would be nothing without Green Jelly. For one thing, Bill will often call members or ask those who contact him to be in his band. He tours alone, with a few core members in each section of the country. Billy Youngblood is often with him, and his drummer...but not always.

"I just ask people to play and learn the stuff. I hope they do when I get there," the founder, Bill, said. "Like I did to you," he added. I had the pleasure of being part of the fourteen member Green Jelly band on keyboards at Buzzbin in Canton, Ohio on this fine June night. "You are the only keyboardist. I thought you were someone else earlier and now I remember you.

Passing Time, nice to have you in my band," he added.

He wasn't kidding. Once a member plays with Green Jelly, they are in the band when they wish to be and as long as it lines up on any given night.

Pre-puppet madness

As Bill worked to tape the puppets (which twenty Green Jelly's fans get to wear each night in the pit) and to hose them with copious amounts of Lysol, he says, "Look at these." Some are ripped in half and need to be totally rebuilt.

"They take a beating nightly," he added.

As he prepared, Exostra hit the stage, one of Canton's theatrical industrial/metal hybrids. They look a bit "Gwar-ish" but have a more electronic sound. Their cover of Marilyn Manson's "Angel With The Scabbed Wings" shook the crowd and even had the bar owner, Buzzbin Mike, in the pit.

Next up was R.I.P. out of Portland. They were a nice fit to the bill because they told spooky tales, offered to cool everyone down with the chill of their "Unmarked Grave," and said, "While it's easy to smile when R.I.P. is on stage, will you be 'Brave in Your Grave?'" Both songs were delivered as a very tight unit and their bass sound is quite unique, setting them apart from other metal bands.

Twisted-T, the guitarist for the band, was pleased to hear that the music seemed to put a fan in the mindset of non-Ozzy Black Sabbath with a bit of a modern thrash metal element. "Right on! That is what we are going for. We are huge fans of 'Born Again.'" When the Sabbath song "Trashed" was mentioned from a different CD, he beamed, "We cover that!" It is a very rare song, so a connection was certainly made with this metal head.

The coming of Green Jelly

From there, the night got even crazier. For one thing, to everyone's shock, there were 14 members in the Green Jelly this evening. Some members did not even meet other members until they got onstage, Bill admitted, smiling. Since most of the members of Green Jelly had never been onstage together to play anything, most had only learned the music in a week or less (some only that day.) Bill marched on stage, comically barked out an offensive sound check, chastised his own band (part of the show), and had guitarist Billy Youngblood lead the "Youngblood Jam." This was a flow jam song that went into Hendrix, "Jungle Love," and other songs.

This jam lasted nine minutes and was the only time that the band played anything together as a unit.

"That's beautiful," shouted Bill, "now get the h*** off the stage." By the time that Lazy Ass Destroyer had a heavyset man named Krusty in a thong playing a guitar on the bar and a witty rapper flowing over what Bill called "rave" beats from "the blinky thing that you have to make do something," the crowd was ready.

"Bill is going to be on one of our songs," confessed rapper Lazy D. "It's called 'Island of the Skull People.'"

"That's an exclusive for Blasting News," added Krusty. He was also to be in Green Jelly tonight, as was Exostra's warrior suited ax master.

Soon, Green Jelly, the band that needs to be recrafted "every day," according to Bill, was ready to play. He sent each member the setlist, did not think to tell members that everything was tuned down a half step from the CD setlist that he had sent, and hoped for the best.

Oddly enough, everyone in Green Jelly "jelled." The drummer and Youngblood kept everyone cued quite nicely and the opener, "The Green Jelly Anthem," had everyone chanting "Green Jelly sucks!," as demanded by the ringleader of the puppet circus, Mr. Manspeaker.

Soon, 20 willing participants were being pummeled in the pit, wearing foam masks that were often waist long and impossible to see from, and falling all over the place. Sponge Bob, Fred Flintstone, a glowing-eyed Cowgod, and even a foam mock Bill Manspeaker were in the mosh frenzy. "The Three Little Pigs" was played with a precision that seemed to happen by a miracle for Green Jelly, as did "Anarchy in Bedrock," a hilarious take on the Sex Pistols classic that talks about using "Ministry" to get what "I want."

From there, "Bear Song," "Obey the Cowgod," and "Anthem" closed out the set.

Or did it? Suddenly, as some members looked on in shock, the band ripped into one more. Their lone keyboardist was following the fingers of guitarists to find the key and, again, it all fell together, and proved to rock the Canton club to its very core.

As the crowd bellowed at the top of their lungs with love, "Green Jelly suck," Bill, who played the show with a broken rib, pumped his fists in the air. He had taken a flimsy ladder to the center of the mosh pit at one point, even banged up.

"I fell off a chair on a speaker to break my rib last night. That ladder didn't do it," he said of the ordeal.

Soon puppets were being returned, torn, ripped, and waiting for Bill to tape them together at the next stop.

The crowd was exhausted. Those in the puppet masks were drenched in sweat, and every member of Green Jelly kept getting patted on the back and told how much "they sucked."

In other words, they did their job wonderfully.