Primus Does Not Suck

By Josh Keppel
|  Wednesday, Jul 21, 2010  |  Updated 10:47 AM PDT
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Les Claypool Switches From Pork Soda to Wine

Josh Keppel

Locals Primus played a warm-up gig at the Great American Music Hall before heading out on the road with old, new drummer Jay Lane joining Les Claypool (left) and Larry LaLonde.

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“So the story is, we were about to hit the road in a week or so and there’s this guy Jay here and he hasn’t played these songs in about 20 years.”

Primus front man Les Claypool explained to the lucky few who’d secured a ticket at the start of the “Über Secret Warm Up Show” why he’d brought us all there.  It was also an introduction of sorts to the old and new Primus drummer Jay Lane.

Lane left Primus a few months before the band recorded their first album, Suck On This, in 1989, and Sunday night was the first show he’d played with the band since.  And what a show it was!

“You’re going to get more Primus here tonight than you ever wanted,” Claypool announced after the band took the stage at the Great American Music Hall where they played two 10-song sets of music, no openers, just a full-on Primus aural assault.

For an old time fan like myself, the show was incredible. No new song fillers, no opening band to sit through, just classic song after classic song.

The set list heavily favored the early tunes, to the delight of the audience, with at least half of the songs from Suck on This, Frizzle Fry and Sailing The Seas of Cheese getting their moment to shine.

For the most part, the songs sounded just as they did 20 years ago, with some minor tweaking in Les’ vocal delivery on some tunes and some looping of his bass lines on other songs.

Primus will be leaving their Bay Area homes next week to hit the road for a three-week North American tour, first stop Toronto, ON (7/27), ending at the Santa Barbara County Bowl (8/15).  One highlight should be on August 14 when Primus plays a “Special Midnight Show” in Las Vegas after legendary Primus musical influences Rush play earlier in the night.

There are no official Bay Area dates scheduled for this year, but rumor has it Primus will play a few nights at the Fox Theater in Oakland for their 20th Annual New Year’s Eve extravaganza.

It is hard to believe that it was almost 20 years ago that I saw Primus play their first NYE show with Mr. Bungle and The Melvins at the Bill Graham Civic in SF.

Some website claims to have the set list from that night and it looks surprisingly close to Sunday night’s:  Bastards, Krinkle, Jerry, Bob, Mud, Tweekers, Pudding Time, Eleven, Puppies, Fisherman, etc.

Waiting for the band to start Sunday night was like an old-time Primus fan reunion with stories of Claypool shows of yesteryear ringing in the ears of fans, many of whom realized that they had unknowingly been to a number of the same shows together.

Tickets to Sunday’s warm-up show were some of the hottest of the summer, with people offering up to $300 each on Craigslist for one of only tickets originally priced at $40 (470 capacity posted at the door).

“You people are quick on the draw,” Claypool marveled, impressed by the Internet skills one had to possess to secure tickets to the secret show (which was sold out in seconds).  “I personally couldn’t do it, my kids?…  I can buy some sh*t on Craigslist though!” 

If you don’t want to miss out on the Primus 2010 tour, Sacramento is about as close to the Bay Area as the band is scheduled to get (with a kick off of the Oddity Faire 2010 on 9/14), and I’ve heard that the Memorial Auditorium is a great place to see a show.  Too bad Gogol Bordello and The Dead Kenny G’s are only on the first leg of the tour, Red Rocks anyone?

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