I was handed a pair of 3D glasses as I entered the auditorium, and I was a little skeptical as to how the visuals were going to work. Fortunately, I was pleasantly surprised. While the screen could have been a little bigger, the images and colors were sharp, vivid and very cool. The 3D worked so well that at some points the images were actually projecting out over the band. It was unlike anything I’d ever seen, and I’m not sure how Primus tours in 2D ever again.
Still, the backdrop was just an accent to the best part of the show; the music. Any conversation about Primus typically starts and ends with Les Claypool, as the eccentric frontman is one of the most extraordinary bassists on the planet. But guitarist Larry “Ler” LaLonde and drummer Jay Lane are incredibly skilled in their own right, and together they play a loud, strange-yet-wonderful brand of what I can only refer to as funk metal.
With the 3D in full effect and the audience more interested in hypnosis than moshing, the show had a decidedly psychedelic vibe. “American Life” kicked things off, with the first three-dimensional image of the Statue of Liberty inspiring a cheer from the crowd.
After a couple of songs off their latest album Green Naugahyde, “Last Salmon Man” and “Jilly’s on Smack”, Primus closed out their set with some old-school classics. “Golden Boy” led into a prolonged “Groundhog’s Day,” with Ler taking advantage of the jam mentality to lay down an extended guitar solo that ranged from smooth to frantic. “Bob” was next, and then “Jerry Was A Racecar Driver,” with 3D cheese wedges flying out towards the crowd.
The second set highlight was “These Damned Blue Collar Tweekers” into “Southbound Pachyderm” into “Over the Falls.” “Southbound Pachyderm” was extended into mega-jam territory, with Claypool’s bass guiding the others and oftentimes the visuals behind him as well. On “Over the Falls,” Claypool stopped the song to give his introduction to Ler’s trademark epic guitar solo. They closed the second set with a terrific version of “Harold of the Rocks,” which again had a long, free-form jam in the middle of the song.
Newer song “Hoeinfordaman” led off the encore. It was an okay song, but with so many tunes in the Primus repertoire, it was an interesting choice to say the least. The reliable “Tommy the Cat” ended the show, with Claypool laying down one of the funkiest bass solos possible. His fingers move so quickly, yet he has been at it so long that it looks effortless. The man can shred, no doubt about it.
Primus has one of the best live shows, period. When you add 3D to it, it becomes an even more extraordinary experience. The only question left is how do they top themselves? With Claypool at the helm, I’m sure they’ll find a way.