Story and photos Matt SchwenkeBack on a full-fledged tour after the bear known as Primus first poked its head out of hibernation on stage earlier this summer in Wisconsin, the threesome, with early Primus drummer Tim "Herb" Alexander replacing Brian "Brain" Mantia, returned to sail the "Seas of Cheese" at the Eagles Ballroom in support of the retrospective They Can't All Be Zingers.
And fittingly, many of the evenings tunes came from the 1991 release Sailing the Seas of Cheese. "Here Come the Bastards" opened the set and the energy stirred up sent many over the security fence in front of the stage-- some who were crowd surfing and others who were trying to escape the pressing crowd-- including one rather young fan whom frontman Les Claypool stopped the song for and brought up on stage, announcing the kid would watch the rest of the show from the side of the stage. Asking the crowd for a bit of restraint, Claypool and company bounced back in right on cue. Other highlights from the aforementioned album included guitarist Larry "Ler" LaLonde leading the factory worker march of "Those Dammed Blue-Collar Tweekers," the odd-metered, rock-hard precision of "Eleven," and the bass-heavy assault of "Sgt. Baker"-- after which Claypool said, "I think you folks made an error, because we're not Primus, we're Cannibal Corpse (the death metal band playing in the basement venue of the building)... Just thought I'd let you know." A heavy drum solo from Alexander may have also helped that assessment.
And much of the show, and even more so the crowd, was apt to rock hard, dark and heavy, but Primus' brand of rock shifted between the funk slappings of the set-ending "Jerry Was A Race Car Driver" and the downright deranged country sound of "De Anza Jig," which featured Claypool on an electric upright and teasing the South Park theme song. A botched ending to the murky wading of "Southbound Pachyderm" might be blamed on the long hiatus but wasn't enough to ruin the depths the band explored earlier in the song. And the crowd agreed, salivating for Primus to return with an encore version of "Is It Luck?"-- and the once-sleepy bear roared again.
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