BEING THERE: Primus @ Festival Pier

Primuis by 215Music

Photo by ALEX BUSCHIAZZO courtesy of 215Music

It was late last year that Primus released The Desaturating Seven, a concept album based off of Ul de Rico’s The Rainbow Goblins, a children’s book about a group of goblins who consume the colors of the world, “desaturating” it of our precious ROY G BIV. Primus mastermind and bassist Les Claypool used to read the story to his children, and, as with Willy Wonka, was musically inspired by its content. Their current tour is focused on music from their new album, naturally, and features a rainbow-through-tree-silhouettes backdrop.

The sky was looking iffy all evening, so I checked the forecast – festival pier is, after all, an entirely outdoor venue – and things were looking good. Don’t take that as foreshadowing; it didn’t end up raining. Good old AccuWeather really put out for us at the freakshow, but the audience was still just about as wet as they’d have been had it rained – be it from sweat, spilled beer, and god knows what else…

Primus warmed up the crowd with a few classics before delving into their new material, opening with “Too Many Puppies” wrapped around a sandwiched “Sgt. Baker,” a fantastic opening to the night. “HOINFODAMAN” came next, and featured updated accompanying visuals taken from the song’s music video. Encore aside (I’ll get to that in a sec), the set was symmetrically five classics followed by the entire Desaturating Seven and concluded by five more classics. Twas a very satisfying set-structure. Between songs, black-robed, hooded figures would slowly and theatrically exchange basses and guitars with Les and Ler, respectively.

Off to stage-right, I peeped guitar racks cradling nine Stratocasters in addition to the one Ler was already playing. One might think ten Strats is excessive, but I wouldn’t question the man who literally invented death-metal. Les wore a curly-horned helmet, and Herb sat hooded upon his throne. The band closed their set with the much anticipated “My Name is Mud,” which broke into “Jerry Was a Racecar Driver,” starting from the famous “Dog will hunt” lyric. After they left the stage, it didn’t take much chanting of “PRIMUS SUCKS!” before they reappeared for “Here Come the Bastards,” a worthy send-off. – KYLE WEINSTEIN