Primus to Play The Ryman, Aug. 6

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Les Claypool, Dressed to Play The Ryman
  • Les Claypool, Dressed to Play The Ryman
Attention local grunge holdovers, bass players who don’t abide the four-string rule — basses should NEVER have more than four strings — Omega Men, hippies, (some) metal heads and marijuana legalization advocates: I’ve got a news item that may just brighten your day after a weekend spent suffering the wrath of Mother Nature’s hand: Primus is coming to The Ryman, Aug. 6.

Fear not, Unicron, I’m not talking about this Primus. I’m talking, of course, about the noodly alterna-prog-funk-metal trio of ever-present bass-abuser, and hero to all nasal-voiced vocalists, Les Claypool, longtime Paul Reed Smith enthusiast Larry LaLonde and founding drummer Jay Lane — who is rejoining the band after a 21-year absence, meaning super-badass skin-beater Tim “Herb” Alexander will not be participating.

In a Critic’s Pick I wrote last year — previewing a Claypool solo appearance at War Memorial Auditorium — I had this to say about his on-again, off-again primary ensemble:

Primus’ oddball fusion of funk, metal and humor was certainly not for everyone. However, given that they were the only band in music history to have appeared on the Lollapalooza, Ozzfest, H.O.R.D.E. and Family Values tours, it’s safe to say that they had a uniquely broad appeal.

Despite said appeal, I’m in none of the many camps that embrace Claypool & Co. A few years ago, I found that out the hard way. In the ’90s, if you were even a tacit fan of popular rock music, then Primus appreciation was virtually an obligation. Remember that? Seriously, if you’re, like, 27 or older, tell me you didn’t own Sailing the Seas of Cheese or Pork Soda at some point. If you do, I won’t believe you.

In 2003 (I think), some old high school buddies convinced me to accompany them to a Primus reunion show. Sensing an opportunity for some ’90s nostalgia, and wondering if I was still a fan, I agreed. 10 minutes into the show a horrible realization hit me: “Oh my God,” I thought to myself, “I think I hate Primus.” The next two hours felt like a slap-bass-laden eternity spent getting shoved into plumes of second-hand smoke clouds by meat heads, tripping over the over-sized shants (shorts that are as long as pants) of ravers, getting breathed on by heshers with halitosis and getting macked in the face with the dreadlocks of kamikaze crowd-surfers. This counter-cultural clusterfuck was all set to the relentless beat of a spine-shattering piccolo snare. There really aren’t harsh enough adjectives in the English language to describe the uniquely putrid stench that emanates from a swirling mosh pit of sweat and patchouli-drenched concert-goers. That was the first time I ever felt old at a concert. I woke up the next morning with a stomach virus. On the other hand, my friends loved it.

So in my experience, a Primus show really did feel like Lollapalooza, H.O.R.D.E., Ozzfest and Family Values all rolled into one, and a decade too late. Add a touch of Opry, and you’ve got Primus at The Ryman. If that sounds like a good time, then mark your calendars. If you're a Primus fan, but not a drug-addled rabble-rouser, then keep in mind that, with any luck, the pews of the Mother Church should effectively thwart the efforts of moshers and crowd surfers, who still haven’t gotten the memo that shit died a fiery death during The Red Hot Chili Peppers set at Woodstock ’99. Onsale info TBA.


Primus: The Early Years

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