If you grew up in the 70’s/80’s as I did then you need no introduction to the classic movie; Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory. If you are younger, than here is a quick synopsis; In 1971 the classic Roald Dahl children’s book was turned into a movie starring a young Gene Wilder (you may know him from the many condescending memes made from his character.) It tells the tale of a desperately poor boy named Charlie that has all is dreams come true after many trials.
The movies storyline is one of a very poor boy named Charlie that finds a “Golden Ticket” inside a candy bar that enables him to visit the ultra-secret Chocolate Factory with some other bratty, spoiled and seedy kids from around the world. Inside the factory is one of amazement where everything Charlie see’s is edible, including chocolate rivers and candy flowers. Throughout the movie, which is really a musical, many catchy songs add to the creep affect which spotlight the demise of the greedy children – who try to steal Wonka’s secrets and sell them to the competition. Highlighted by the delightful Oompa Loompa’s, it is a visual and aural treat. In the end, all the bad kids either get sucked up into rivers of chocolate or getting zapped into a real tv show leaving Charlie the “winner”. Although the movie was bizarre and playful, it served a strong message of being honest, and real to attain your dreams.
Primus, being the geniuses they are, decided to re-create the music from the film into their own, even more creepy and ridiculous LP, aptly named “Primus & The Chocolate Factory.” The 14 track album has all the fan favorites including, “Candy Man”, “I Want It Now” and the trippy classic “Pure Imagination.” The best thing about this album is that it stands on it’s own – you do not need to know the movie to enjoy it, as it is highly musically creative and ambitious. Stream the full album here on Spotify.
A few weeks into their tour, on Halloween, Primus stopped into the legendary Beacon Theater for what band leader and bassist, Les Claypool called – “one of the best shows they’ve ever played”. The majority of the crowd came to party, many dressed in Chocolate Factory attire, made the night more than just a normal show. Outside the venue while looking for cool costumes, I noticed a guy dressed in a pig mask scoping the place out, being inquisitive I asked what he was doing and learned that this dude gives out free tickets to Primus shows! Not long after he found his mark and surprised them with 2 tickets to the sold-out gig!
The show started off with a very dark stage and some Primus staples such as “American Life”, “John the Fisherman”, “My Name Is Mud” and the rollicking “Jerry Was a Racecar Driver”. After an hour of the hits they exited and the curtain dropped. When the curtain lifted the stage was adorned with massive candy canes, trippy flowers and one very large mushroom. The band was dressed in Halloween masks and or chocolate factory garb who then played the first tracks of the album perfectly. A few songs in “Willy Wonka” appeared ( Les with a purple suit, wig, and top hat) and proceeded to tell the rest of the insane story that lasted over an hour. It was so amazing how Primus effortlessly performed the complex and weaving tunes live, and really shows that they are some very talented individuals. At one point they even could of been mistaken for a young Pink Floyd on the albums psychedelic closer, “Farewell Wonkites.”
After a raucous encore applause, the band came back out and performed a handful of older tunes that was highlighted by the marching like – “Here Come the Bastards” to end the memorable show. Primus is now on tour, if you like good times, you must go at all costs.
Article by: Shayne Hanley