Primus, 9/30/11, Roseland Ballroom, NYC
This day started out with me checking to make sure my Primus ticket was in my wallet at least 3 times before I left the house. It was. Then I got street parking! Happy Rosh Hashanah!
When I got to work, the interwebs were abuzz with a rumor that global music superstars Radiohead, who had just played 2 surprise/sold out shows at Roseland, were going to be visiting the Occupy Wall Street protest in Zuccotti Park at 4PM and playing a few songs in support. It was believable in the moment, but as the minutes grew closer, a few statements were released claiming it was a hoax. Of course, that’s what The Man would want you to think. Regardless, it would be a stellar PR stunt for the protestors, who have gotten next to no coverage in the mainstream media. Live Music Junkie OCD took over and soon my buddy and I had ducked out of the office and took a 5 minute subway ride to Rector St.-- you know, “just in case.”
Hoax or not, it was a good excuse to finally go down there and check out the protest. I am, after all, part of the Other 99% (as opposed to those jerkface 1%'ers). And as someone who spent the better part of last year as an unemployed statistic, I am definitely in support of Tax/Finance/Wall St./Corporate/Regulatory/Health Care/Environmental/David Cook’s Beard/Generally Disenfranchised Population/You Name It Reform. But if Radiohead had played a free set so close and I had missed it, I’d be really pissed. What we found however, besides no Radiohead and a lot of NYPD, was a strange scene in the park, reminiscent of Monday morning at moe.down: lots of people kind of standing around, a sign tribute/graveyard/floor score cornucopia, air mattresses, grilled cheese sandwiches, and the occasional Tourist, who had wandered over from Ground Zero (on purpose or not). And Radiohead fans, but still, no Radiohead.
We wandered a little deeper into the mix to investigate. In the center of the park is the makeshift Media/Press Room, which consisted of folding tables, lots of laptops, and a guy wearing a black t shirt with a piece of duct tape indicating he was “Security”. Nice. We will be doing this to Pete next year at moe.down xiii. There were a mess of camera crews, I don't know from what outlets, maybe waiting for Radiohead, since the protest has gotten barely any press at all. CURIOUS. The crowd was practicing some simple chants, then they took part in what almost sounded like the legal wording of a Wide Release. Apparently, they are not allowed to use bullhorns, so they use a technique known as “The People's Mic", sort of a human bullhorn if-you-will. One person says something, and the entire crowd repeats it, in order for everyone else to hear. Cult-like, but both effective & law-abiding on Private Property. I wondered aloud if my friend and I would be leaving with Bed Bugs. No one repeated that.
Having already gotten sweatier than I ever intended to get that day, it was time to head back to work... for a major Corporation. A girl’s gotta pay for Health Insurance, yo (heeey, if only it were freeeee!!). I have left hippie protests feeling invigorated before, but this one left me feeling kind of sad and weird. Yes, the air mattresses bothered me, but also, it’s centered in this teeny tiny little park in lower Manhattan, it seems to be dwarfed by all the Skyscrapers and money around it. It feels as if nobody cares. The scene is symbolic of this entire movement, whatever it is. The 99% are diminutive. “Nothing to see here, please disperse.” It all still needs direction and focus. And there was also a hipster trying to sublet his “really nice 2 bedroom apartment in Brooklyn” on an iPhone standing next to us. So, there was that.
However, this weekend, as Occupy YOUR CITY’S NAME HERE began popping up around the country! It seems as if the message has gotten out via the interwebs. Holy crap! Sound familiar (Europe, the Middle East, etc.)? Welcome to the future? Sunday brought a massive march onto the Brooklyn Bridge, where police “kettled” in the protestors with plastic fencing and arrested over 700 of them. MORE THAN SEVEN HUNDRED PEOPLE WERE ARRESTED ON THE BROOKLYN BRIDGE ON SUNDAY. MSNBC even gave them some great Prime-Time-Air Monday night! So, perhaps they are finally onto something! I encourage everyone to go down to Zuccotti Park and check out what is going on. Occupy Wall Street has sparked a nationwide movement (joining a worldwide movement) that will hopefully keep growing and moving in the right direction. It’s hard to believe that 99% of the population can be ignored and brushed under the rug for much longer. Is it stupid to remain hopeful?
Anyways… Later in the day, there was Live Music to be had--- and this was definitely NOT a hoax.
There are few greater joys in life than watching Les Claypool dance around in a pig mask. And that’s only one of the reasons I see Primus at every given opportunity. I first saw them on MTV’s 120 Minutes, which used to air back when MTV was awesome, and actually encouraged people to go out and buy albums (crazy how that worked!), which I did. At ~14 years old, Sailing the Seas of Cheese was unlike anything I’d ever heard. Mind-bending bass and weirdness led the charge, complemented by relentlessly pounding drums, and an uncontrollable squealing guitar that always took the road less traveled. It all came together magically, creating a beautiful ruckus. A twisted and far cry from the Classic Rock, Hair Bands, & Metal I’d grown up with.
In 1995, I saw my first Primus show. My hearing would never be the same. What? I also learned a valuable lesson, which is: tiny girls don’t belong in a mosh pit. No, sir. I vaguely recall a cocky attempt followed by a fast & cowardly retreat. Later on, my sister’s boyfriend reappeared with a black eye, after getting kicked in the face. Fun! Oh, and someone threw a shoe at Les, hitting the headstock of his bass, which knocked it out of tune in the middle of Jerry Was a Racecar Driver, and earned us all a lecture about why you don’t throw things at the band. Also, Les requested, if you see some guy walking out of the AU Bender Arena with only one shoe tonight, please beat the shit out of him, or something to that effect.
Last Friday, a slightly more mature Primus crowd, briefly mingled with the Jersey Boys theater-goers (a nice English couple were staring at the marquee and asked me what was going on- I described Primus as “a loud Rock band”) before we (sans nice English couple) stormed Roseland to have our ears dominated like sex slaves who just had to fucking take it. Enjoyably, that is. No safety words can save you now. Maybe I should have lied to get them in? "It's like Fawlty Towers... on ice."
The last time I saw Primus at Roseland, I was well out of the pit area (now a professional choice), halfway back, on the floor, against the VIP riser—and of course, location and timing being everything-- a spontaneous mosh pit erupted right in front of me. This pinned me to the wall before I managed to shimmy (oh, if you could have only seen me shimmy) my way out, still against the wall, backwards. This was why I was especially thankful and grateful to Mark, for bringing me up to the Mezzanine to enjoy this particular show, out of harm’s way. Thanks, Marquis.
With the first groans of Damn Blue Collar Tweekers, Roseland began MOVING. My thoughts turned to the Occupy Wall Street folks. Though, that might be more like Those Damn White Collar Tweekers, who have always run this town. Regardless, the first set was a killer mix of Primus favorites. A stellar Groundhog’s Day. Then Southbound Pachyderm-- insanely good. The vibe in Roseland was lurking and EVIL. BRING IT, Primus! Mrs. Blaileen was loud and crazy. Jerry Was A Racecar Driver, was awesome as always, and the floor became a mess of frenzied animals (including a cow in the mosh pit!! See video, below!). Over the Electric Grapevine was a beautiful way to mellow out the room, with just enough rockin’ involved, to keep the energy going while ensuring a calm setbreak.
Setbreak itself, consisted of a captivated room of spectators, totally entranced by cartoons playing on the big screen. Fabulous! Know your audience!
Set two was the new album, Green Naugahyde, in its entirety, which was **AWESOME**. Primus busted out the big guns and the crowd ate it up. Who wouldn’t love a demented fishing trip with Les Claypool? Fun, bouncy, loud, with exploratory jams. Highlights: Prelude To A Crawl, because it sets the scene. Tragedy’s a’ Comin’, cuz it’s a silly groove. Jilly’s On Smack, do I really need to explain why? HOINFODAMAN. Pronounced: Ho’in, fo’, da man. So… Fuck yah. A spacy Extinction Burst that any Benevento/Russo Duo fan would fucking cream over. And of course, Last Salmon Men, returning to the dock with Captain Les.
Someone threw a beer at Jay, which was totes lame. Les told the tosser dude he had a small penis. Fantastic. Then they encored with a high energy Mr. Knowitall and a smokin’ Harold of the Rocks, which featured Lal going absolutely fucking bonkers on guitar! Hot damn, I love that guy!
There is absolutely nothing like a Primus show to rock the fuck out and blow off some steam. They just fucking shred. Larry Lalonde is a mad genius on guitar and the perfect complement to Claypool’s weirdness. They exist on the same plane and are absolutely magical together. Jay Lane is back on on drums, and while he’s played with various other artists through the years (Charlie Hunter, The Flying Frog Brigade, Furthur, Ratdog), the man showed everyone why he belongs in Primus. This is nothing against Herb, who has sat on the kit previously- because he is also awesome, but Jay fucking KILLED it on the skins this night. Such a sick sick trio with such a loud loud sound.
I think years of dabbling in the jamband scene has really left a positive impression on Les. The 2 set format worked really well for Primus. I’d love to see that again. Also, secretly, I think Les enjoys playing to people who aren’t beating the shit out of each other every time the tempo builds, but that’s just one hippie’s opinion.
Hope to do it again real soon!
Blue Collar Tweekers, Wynona's Big Brown Beaver, The Pressman, Groundhog's Day, Over the Falls, Southbound Pachyderm, Mrs. Blaileen, Jerry Was a Racecar Driver, Over the Electric Grapevine
SET II: Green Naugahyde
Prelude to a Crawl, Hennepin Crawler, Last Salmon Man, Eternal Consumption Engine, Tragedy's a' comin', Eyes of the Squirrel, Jilly's on Smack, Lee Van Cleef, Moron TV, Green Ranger, HOINFODAMAN, Extinction Burst, Salmon Men
Mr. Knowitall, Harold of the Rocks
I haven’t seen the Roseland show up, but the rest of the Northeast tour is-- so check for updates and then DOWNLOAD THE SHOW! http://bt.etree.org/?searchss=&cat=207
MY SLIDESHOW & HI-RES GALLERY!