Primus Shake Up Club On Antipop Tour

Bass-heavy trio mix old favorites with new songs in two-hour, over-the-top show.

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

due.

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

you."

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

Values tour.

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

the flow.

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

motions.

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

Sucks!"

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.