Usually you can tell a whole lot about a band just by looking at the t-shirts that the concert-goers are wearing to the show. Not so with Primus.
Before actually even setting foot in the Palace Theatre, I spotted fans proudly declaring their cross-the-chest allegiance to such bands as Lynyrd Skynyrd, the Cramps, Johnny Cash, the Grateful Dead, Devo, the Rev. Horton Heat, AC/DC, Ween, Sirsy, NOFX, Stone Temple Pilots, Motorhead and moe.
Yikes! What kind of band draws a fan base from across that preposterously wide gamut of musical styles?
That would be the mighty Primus, spawned from the obviously twisted mind of bass virtuoso Les Claypool. Not just oridnary Primus, either – not that there is such a thing – but rather the reconstituted original Primus line-up with guitarist Larry LaLonde and prodigal drummer Jay Lane. Just a couple of days into their tour in support of “Green Naugahyde,” the band’s first studio album in more than a decade.
So maybe it was no surprise that the concert was sold out. Even on a Tuesday night.
As videos brought to life the face-visors of two towering inflatable astronaut balloon figures that bookended a large video screen featuring a hodge-podge mash-up of vintage sci-fi films, old television shows, instructional films, newsreels and home movies, Claypool and his prog-funk wrecking crew hit the stage for an hour-long blast through catalog fan favorites.
You probably had your own favorite moments, but to these ears the highlight of the first set was the back-to-back-to-back triptych of the deep trance, raga-groove of “The Pressman” (with LaLonde’s guitar summoning up a bagpipe-like drone) into the wobble-funk epic “Golden Boy” followed by the rusty junkyard clatter of “Over the Falls.” The band was locked in sync and spinning toward the outer edge of the control orbit, but Claypool was unquestionably the heartbeat and focus of attention.
After a delightful intermission – during which they screened the first four Popeye cartoons (1933 vintage) onstage – the trio returned to spin through through the entire “Green Naugahyde” album. The neanderthal swing of “Last Salmon Man,” the monolithic heavy metal stomp of “Eyes of the Squirrel,” the stuttering boogie of “Lee Van Cleef” and the phase-shifted, off kilter reggae of “Moron TV” were all worthy of the highlight reel.
But the climax of the night was the first encore of “Southbound Pachyderm,” a surreal, 12-minute epic accompanied by visions of an elephant on a trampoline. “You won’t believe that it’s true,” Claypool intoned during the song, and that pretty much summed up the whole evening, which was simultaneously sophomoric and cerebral. And always funky.
Photographs by Andrzej Pilarczyk
Charlie Vella and KC’s dual reviews at Keep Albany Boring
Raurri Jennings’ review at Metroland
Sara Foss’ review at Foss Forward
Excerpt from Brian McElhiney’s review at The Daily Gazette: “Not many bands of Primus’ age have the stones to play their entire new record start to finish live. But Primus isn’t most bands. And after 12 years without a studio album, touring behind their back catalog, it was refreshing to hear Primus shed its recent nostalgic image and sink its teeth into some new material. Of course, it helps that the band has a recognizable sound that doesn’t change much between albums — which isn’t a knock by any means — the trio is very good at what it does. ‘Prelude to a Crawl’ into ‘Hennepin Crawler,’ which kicks off ‘Green Naugahyde’ and thus kicked off the second set, is a classic Primus album, all rubbery bass riffing and pounding drums. The audience reaction seemed cool, especially coming off the hits of the first set, but the crowd soon warmed up as the band launched into ‘Salmon Man’ and the ethereal, shrieking ‘Eternal Consumption Engine.’ Hearing the material in this way allowed fans to truly experience the new album, with all of its peaks and valleys.”
PRIMUS SET LIST
Duchess and the Proverbial Mind Spread
Over The Falls
Jerry Was A Race Car Driver
Over the Electric Grapevine
The “Green Naugahyde” Album
Prelude to a Crawl
Last Salmon Man
Eternal Consumption Engine
Tragedy’s A’ Comin’
Eyes of the Squirrel
Jilly’s on Smack
Lee Van Cleef
Salmon Men (recorded)
Wynona’s Big Brown Beaver