Just a few notes in, you could sense all this pent-up energy finding life in the trio’s nimble motions. Primus have toured almost every year and quite frequently since their formation in 1984, so the pause caused by the pandemic has got to be driving them mad. But all that unused fire yielded an exceptional livestreamed gig on Friday night, dubbed ‘Alive From Pachyderm Station.’ Packed with classics, plus a live debut and a rarity, the show was so strong that we’re really hoping the audio ends up on vinyl someday. Bass legend Les Claypool, guitarist Larry “Ler” LaLonde, and drummer Tim “Herb” Alexander cooked up some insanely sharp cuts and appeared to be having a blast in their first public performance this year.
Knowing how meticulous Les is when it comes to acoustics, and given that he mixed this gem of a set, it’s no shock that Pachyderm Station sounded so swell. Filmed at Claypool Cellars, his Sebastopol, California winery, it marked the first time the band has played this location – a cozy room decked out in holiday lights and some sweet gig posters. When they weren’t sinking into sticky grooves in their sixteen-song, 1.5-hour show, we got glimpses of some classic Primus symbols, like Claypool’s pig mask and some tasty-looking cheese melting in a pot. The footage of the band was also enhanced by an increasingly-trippy mirrored effect (we later saw in the credits that Claypool’s son Cage was credited for video stuff). Adding to the excitement of their sinister synergy, Claypool was dancing and stomping more than we’ve seen before. As usual, watching his fingers fly across the strings was like trying to solve a math problem through a kaleidoscope. His hands are just a blur of technical perfection, and the way he coolly sings over such intense bass work is another marvel to behold. Of course, there were countless Ler-and-Herb-appreciation moments too as their precise contributions stole our focus.
Primus’ killer opening of “Those Damned Blue-Collar Tweekers” went straight into a rarity, “Lacquer Head” from 1999’s Antipop, which hadn’t been dusted off since 2000. Later, another surprise came with the live debut of “Eclectic Electric” from the same record. Among the many highlights, the way Claypool delivered the words to “Pudding Time” sounded especially gooey and borderline spooky. After that rager, he remarked, “Not too bad for a few old turds” – a hell of an understatement. It was also fun seeing him switch from one of his curly Carl Thompsons to an upright bass for “Seas of Cheese” and “Mr. Krinkle.” Following a slick run of “The Seven” from their latest album, 2017’s The Desaturating Seven, they closed out with a ten-minute “Southbound Pachyderm” that was powerful enough to strip paint off the walls. The only thing missing was the sound of a giant crowd chanting “Primus sucks!” – but watching the global audience blow up the comments section with love was a solid 2020-style substitution.
Article: Olivia Isenhart
Photos: Shayne Hanley