Legendary rock trio Primus have been rampaging through their “Ambushing The Storm Tour” this fall in support of their brand new studio creation, their storybook concept album The Desaturating Seven. Sunday night was a special notch upon this tour, with a show at The Capitol Theatre that had the second set run through the new record in its entirety.
With a “Those Damned Blue-Collar Tweekers” opener, the band hit off and Les Claypool was immediately at comfortable command: poised halfway on a speaker, ready to rip through the dark night ahead, he chanted lyrics into a sea of super fans all chanting right back at him. The great start continued then with a “Too Many Puppies” and “Sgt. Baker” sandwich, in the middle of which Claypool and Larry LaLonde brought the first really great interplay soloing.
But “Frizzle Fry” and “Candy Man” came as the apex of set one’s musical reaches. “Fry” saw some awesome full band breakdown treatment, and thus managed to rev the energy of the theatre up a good several notches all at once. Then “Candyman,” for which Claypool donned his diabolic Christopher P. Bacon mask and entered his whamola bass into play, liquified into a long and hypnotizing version.
Before they wrapped up the first half of the night with a “Winona’s Big Brown Beaver,” Claypool acted as grand judge of the Halloween show costumes. His blanket assessment, to laughter and cheers throughout: “I’m not pandering here. I’ll be honest, there are some ugly ones out there.”
But the jocularity concluding the first set had a bizarro opposite in the second set’s wonderfully dark and weird journey through their heavy-rock fantasy tale, The Desaturating Seven. A theatre sized screen came down to re-introduce an imax-size P. Bacon as the booming narrator, and then Claypool introduced the colorful septet in the opener, “The Seven,” one of the more popular tracks off the concept work—which is no surprise as it really gets the rock going right away. The music started to take on its more prog aspect with LaLonde’s acoustic guitar providing surreally pretty intos and outros.
The back end of the album descended the story of the goblins, along with the Capitol Theatre’s collective headspace, into a melancholic, foreboding downward spiral. Basically: things got really dark really fast, for both the Goblins facing their whacky karmic end and the energized and definitely fully satisfied fans throughout the theatre. “The Dream,”as an exercise in audio effects and droning space, was the murky pit of this area.
But while the gloom emanating off of tracks like these is truly surreal, terrifically they are also not without their true Primus hard rock treatment. “The Trek” contrasted off the more macabre moments with both wild, Danny Elfman-esque compositions and brief bursts of the band’s chromatically twisted take on hard funk rock. “The Storm” reached a similarly amped up, cosmic place before “The Ends” brought things to an eerily loud, cacophonous close.
The band came back out for a three-song encore, in which it was clear they’re weren’t done throwing their best efforts down on the stage. “Groundhoug Day” ended up being the true banger of the night, unfurling into a stellar, wrenchingly-driven improv jam.
To hear the album unfold from end to end, in front of a bleakly freakish landscape of video artwork adorning all of the Capitol’s walls, and interconnected between it’s nightmarish narration, the huge array of sound effects on Claypool’s bass and voice, and of course, plenty of power trio rocking, made this showing both a rounded out spectacle and still a great Primus show.
Primus continues their Ambushing The Storm Tour with a Halloween show tonight at Brooklyn Steele.
Article by Miles Hurley
Photographs by Charles Jackson