BOSTON That a Primus show evokes the cartoonish, over-the-top
quality of professional wrestling is clearly not lost on Les Claypool.
The Primus frontman looked every bit the part of a wrestler claiming
victory Wednesday night as he took the stage at the Avalon Ballroom, bass
guitar strapped across his chest, hands raised overhead, for the second
show of his band's U.S. tour. He accepted the roar of the crowd as his
Wearing a metallic-blue helmet, wrap-around shades, olive-drab pants and
camouflage shirt with cut-off sleeves, Claypool announced, "I don't know
if you know this or not, but we are Primus, and this is a Primus show."
In his dorky, straight-outta-"South Park" voice, Claypool continued, "If
you do not want to be at a Primus show, you are in the wrong place and
you should leave. And now, we are going to do our very best to entertain
The crowd responded with a resounding "Primus Sucks!" a traditional
chant at the band's shows.
Primus' funked-up, bass-heavy rumblings shook the walls of the club for
nearly two hours in a set packed solidly with new tunes from Antipop
released a month ago and spiked with crowd-pleasers from
the trio's back catalog.
Among the Antipop material was the groove-heavy "Electric Uncle
Sam." "Eclectic Electric" (RealAudio
excerpt), with its clear, ringing guitar intro, was a departure
from Primus' usual unadulterated sludge-rock.
Although Primus' headlining tour was just getting under way, the band has
been on the road for months, playing this summer's Ozzfest and joining
up with labelmates Limp Bizkit for the West Coast portion of the Family
Long road trips are often a two-edged sword. On this night, the band was
cohesive and tight, most of the time. When the energy level ebbed, the
band would kick in with a song such as "My Name Is Mud" (RealAudio
excerpt), a single from 1993's Pork Soda, and recapture
Images were projected onto a screen behind the band. When the show began,
bubbles percolated upward on the screen (a champagne image to mark the
coming new year, perhaps?) and arc-welding sparks cascaded downward. Later,
images of mechanical animals and insects jerked in robotic, hypnotic
During "Coattails of a Deadman," another new song recorded with
singer/songwriter Tom Waits the image of a man in a white tailcoat
drifted ghostlike across the screen.
And during the encore, Claypool donned a pig's-head mask and noted, "That
gets your attention, doesn't it? Putting on the pig's head always does."
Claypool introduced his bandmates, guitarist Larry LaLonde and drummer
Brian "Brain" Mantia, twice, neither time by their real names. He periodically
did "entertainment value checks," stopping the show to ask fans if they'd
got their money's worth, to which the crowd responded, naturally, "Primus
Claypool abandoned his dorky onstage persona once, to dedicate a song to
"a friend I met on the H.O.R.D.E. tour, who died last summer. He really
liked this song."
The song was "Jerry Was a Race Car Driver" (RealAudio
excerpt), and the friend was Morphine frontman Mark Sandman, who
died in Italy in July, of an apparent heart attack.