October 5, 2010
There is nothing quite like a Primus show. Complete with enough euphemisms, banter, and epic amounts of eeriness, Claypool and company brought the appropriately named Oddity Faire tour through Atlanta on a beautiful fall evening to a near capacity crowd, all of whom were ready to embrace the outfit in all of its eccentricity.
Many will recall the days of Primus when they were Frizzle Frying in a Sea of Cheese. In those days, their following mainly consisted of fans of all things alternative. Darlings of MTV’s Sunday night toast to all of their "other" viewers, Primus claimed their spot in the genus with packaging that was all their own. In conversations concerning Primus, debates would almost certainly ensue in regards to who could kick whose ass: Henry Rollins or Glenn Danzig? This would only be supplanted by the "who is the best bassist in the land argument"- Les Claypool or Geddy Lee?
Few would most have guessed that nearly two decades later Primus would draw reminiscing Generation X-ers to their live shows, and that those X-ers would be able to continue the now tired debate with an entirely new fan base whose entire summation of MTV consists of Carson Daly and Snooki. Hence proving that there is one thing about music that endures from generation to generation: originality.
Following a mild psychedelically imparted preamble complete with the introduction of gigantic inflated astronauts whose helmet visor served as a projection screen of such things as scenes from Reefer Madness, Primus launched onto their perch with both Claypool and drummer Jay Lane dressed in the same garb that has been standard fare for the entire tour. Either guitarist Larry LaLonde (or "Ler" as he is more affectionately known) did not get the memo or simply said "fuck it" at the proposition of donning a derby. Either way, the lack of color coordination had zero effect on the opening number, "To Defy the Laws of Tradition" which was owned by Ler through his inventive sweep picking techniques. The heaviness of the refrain supplied the audience with an ample plate of oomph and the demographically cross-sectioned crowd took the bait hook, line, and sinker.
In spite of initial skepticism at the onset of the tour, Jay Lane amply filled the shoes of long time drummer Tim "Herb" Alexander. For a percussive and bass driven sound this is obviously imperative. The fact is that Lane was there first (as the actual first Primus drummer) and the transition back into punk-funk has seemingly been met with ease.
As the show evolved, the split in the crowd became more apparent, divided between those that wanted to mosh and crowd surf and those who wanted to rage in their own personal space. The boundaries seemed to maintain themselves although at one point Claypool took a moment for some redirection of a bald gluttonous space infringer, stating "just relax. You look a little angry. If somebody is bothering you, you can just turn to them and say ‘hey you are kind of bothering me.’ I mean you are a big guy, bald and kind of scary, just use a little apathy for a change." He proceeded to explain Primus’ plight with getting girls to attend their shows and how he was not going to have this guy scaring off the few that were there. It was classic Les and was a tactic that one can only wish more artists would employ. This would not be the last interaction with the audience, as he would later wish a young lady on the rail a happy 21st birthday after commenting on the "mirror (disco) ball brassiere" that she was adorning for the evening, self referred to by her as her disco tits.
The crowd rolled as Primus reeled through such catalogue gems as "Jerry was a Racecar Driver," "Those Damned Blue Collared Tweekers," and "John the Fisherman," while Les clucked around the stage like a cock that was about to enter the fighting den. The fruition of not only Les, but of Lane and Lalonde’s progressions as artists was blatantly evident as many of the numbers were more exploratory in nature than in tours past. The fact that Lane has spent recent time with Furthur, LaLonde had a stint with Tom Waits, and Les has done stage time with everybody from Trey Anastasio to Karl Denson has surely played a role in this and their collective experiences shone brightly – or darkly – as it was.
The most exemplary evidence to support this notion came in the form of a drum and whamola jam that brought Les out as the pig and monkey-masked beast that so many have come to be acquainted with over recent years through Claypool’s various projects. It was sonic weirdness and experimentation at its finest. It was Primus.
The sounds of Primus cannot be replicated. They have a unique style, and there was barely a hiccup in the performances of the trio for the duration of the night. The throng of Atlanta admirers left the Tabernacle satisfied and content in the authentic oddities that they had just witnessed, departing with the band’s signature unlikely phrase of endearment, "Primus sucks!"