Primus concert review

by John Heyer.

Alpine Valley, Milwaukee, WI, USA. July 3, 1999.

Setlist (may not be in correct order):

And that was it! The performance did last roughly 45 minutes though. I really liked what I heard, as the aucoustics seemed a lot better than when I had last been there for the HORDE nearly 2 years ago. The boys seemed to be having lots of fun - especially Les, decked out in an army vest and his CHiPs helmet. Ler was dressed out in his usual skater gear, I couldn't see much of Brain behind the set, but he had dyed his hair jet black, just as Ler had done the last time I saw them here. After ripping up with "Defy", Les took a quick break to introduce themselves and make some jokes about the heat (the morning clouds had left, but that now made it sunny, humid, and close to 90). It was at that time I realized how many people were already there (15,000 I estimated), and how enthusiastic the people on the lawn seemed about Primus, even though it was still 4 hours until headliners Rob Zombie and Black Sabbath took the stage. Les also joked about the lack of attendance and enthusiasm in the reserve seats, teasing "There's a 16 year old kid who'd loooove to be in your place right about now, ya know." Then the big surprise - Les asked if their were any Pantera fans (which obviously drew great cheers considering the mostly Milwaukee metalhead attendance), and then said "I don't know if this guy is any Dimebag Darrel, but he's pretty damn good", and then out on stage walked Buckethead! Buckethead proceded to rip through a solo in the middle of "Tweekers", playing bits of Praxis tunes, and then went into the "Smoke on the Water" intro, led by Les. I felt like an idiot chanting Buckethead cheers during the performance, as I was probably the only person there even vaguely familiar with Buckethead's work. Les and Ler also stepped back at the end of "My Name is Mud" to allow Buckethead to slowcase his "robot walk", but at that point the initial enthusiasm seemed to be wearing off from the crowd. One little bit about Buckethead - during the finale of "Harold of the Rocks", I did notice a guy wearing the same clothes as Buckethead run across the back of the stage, with his bucket and mask off! I really couldn't see much from were I was, other than he had short brown hair. But it was still pretty cool to see the supposedly anonymous musician "unmasked".

The new song "Anti Pop" was introduced by Les as "describing the current state of radio and MTV today", and had one of the hardess bass lines I've ever heard, similar to "Shake Hands with Beef". I was a bit disappointed we got to hear only one song from the new album and no Brown songs, but it was a cool performance nonetheless, with Buckethead adding a unique flavor to a 45 minute/6 song show which might have been a bit redundand overwise. A few mosh pits opened up in the lower lawn area during the time, and everyone seemed to enjoy the quick grooves of "Jerry" and "Tweekers", which surprised me a bit since I'm sure Slayer, Rob Zombie, and Black Sabbath were the acts everyone had come to see. I was amazed to see the first 2/3rds of the lawn standing, as for the HORDE less that 1/2 the lawn was full, with only the first few rows paying any attention to the opening acts.

For the rest of the Festival, Slayer took the main stage shortly after Primus left and ripped through their set, head-banging at a rapid pace to match their furious guitar work. From the crowd's response, Slayer may have very well been the act most of the crowd had come to see. Afterwards, Fear Factory wrapped up the second stage with a very energetic and intimate performance, and the evening passed with Deftones, Rob Zombie, and of course Black Sabbath. Zombie's act was of course fun to watch, as he ran throught a near medley of White Zombie songs and songs from his solo album, complete with two dancing girls and a fantastic pyrotechnic show. The crowd almost rioted as Zombie was 10 minutes late to stage, but the shooting flames and giant American flags with skulls over the stars made for a visually stunning set, and Zombie seemed equally in awe of the huge audience which sung chanted the chorus of the opening "Superbeast". Black Sabbath took the stage at 9 PM with "Wars Pigs", and while I would have loved to stay for the entire 90 minute set, I didn't know many of the songs and with 20,000 in attendance, needed to beat the traffic rush home. Ozzy smiled mischeivously throughout what I saw, using a firehose on the audiance between songs and getting the camera to scan the crowd for topless women. As with the HORDE, it isn't worth the $30 ticket price, overpriced food, and overcrowed venues to see Primus for only 40 minutes. But if you've been curious to see Zombie or Slayer live like I was, it's worth going. Be sure not to miss some really good acts on the second stage too - Fear Factory was very haunting with their ghostly vocal effects, and Static-X gave a hard, trashing performance the younger parts of the crowd deeply enjoyed.

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