Monday, August 2, 2010


Picture at the right courtesy of my DROID!  For those of you who aren't familiar with Primus: fans enthusiastically chant "Primus sucks!" at their shows.  In reality, they are one of the best, most creative, weirdest, heaviest bands you'll ever see.  They aren't for everyone.  But they are for me, and the thousands of other people who showed up to the waterfront in Williamsburg on Friday night.

This was the first time most of us saw this particular lineup of Primus: of course leader Les Claypool was playing bass and doing vocals and Larry "Ler" LaLonde is still on guitar. But drummer Tim "Herb" Alexander left the band for the second time, and, as I mentioned a few months back, Jay Lane is back in the band. Jay was in Primus before they ever recorded an album, and in the years since, has played with Les in Sausage, as well as many of his other solo projects. But mainly, he's been Bob Weir's drummer, playing in his band Ratdog, as well as in Furthur, which which featured Weir and another Grateful Dead alumni, Phil Lesh.

When Primus reunited a few years back, they got a bit jammier due to the time Les had spent in the jam band community: his band Oysterhead featured Trey Anastasio of Phish, and his solo band toured with Lesh, did Bonnaroo and other jam band festivals, and Les played a bit with Warren Haynes of Gov't Mule. But with Lane back in the band, they got a bit jammier, but I had no problem with that. They were still as heavy, and as weird, as ever.  And one cool thing about Lane being back in the band is that they now have more material to choose from. "Herb" quit the band in 1996 and they replaced him with Brian "Brain" Mantia, but when Primus reunited in 2003 with "Herb," they didn't do any of the "Brain" material. Since Lane wasn't on any of the Primus albums, now they can do anything from any period. The third song they did was "Golden Boy" from 1997's Brown Album, which they hadn't played in over a decade. They also did "Over The Falls" from that album. Personally, I would have loved to hear some stuff from 1999's Antipop, maybe that will come on their next tour.

The show seemed a bit short: there were two opening bands: The Dead Kenny G's and Gogol Bordello (we caught the end of them). Primus seemed to play a short set, and I read that they were forced off stage 15 minutes before curfew for some reason. They only played 13 songs, plus a drum solo and a "whamola" jam.  But the songs were extended a bit (not ridiculously long, thankfully) and there were lots of classics: "Pudding Time," "Here Come The Bastards," "Those Damn Blue Collar Tweekers," "Sgt. Baker," "American Life," "Jerry Was A Race Car Driver" and "Tommy The Cat." I think the band are just warming up for a new album and a bigger tour, and they are getting used to this particular combination. The band were powerful as ever, and Les had his usual charisma.  He doesn't even remind you of anyone, he is a total original, from his songwriting to his bass playing to his on-stage banter. That's why he doesn't "suck," and why so many of us will be there every time he decides to reactivate the band (and many of us check out all of his great solo projects as well).  They are apparently playing in Montclair, New Jersey in the fall: I know I'll be there!

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