by Aaron McKenzie
9:30 Club, Washington, DC. October 15, 1997.
Primus Sails the Seas of Cheese at the Nightclub 9:30
The Nightclub 9:30 is never so filled with unbridled energy as when Primus comes to town. These three musical cohorts, hailing from the breezy San Francisco Bay area, keep the audience in high gear throughout the entirety of their show. The October 15, 1997 show was no exception.
After an energetic opening by Buck-O-Nine, Primus took the stage to shouts of "Primus Sucks," the band's battle cry. Guitarist Larry LaLonde, now with short, jet-black hair, and Brian "Brain" Mantia, the latest addition to the group, strolled onto stage in the darkness and commenced the festivities. As the lights came up and Larry and Brain began playing, Les Claypool, the band's bassist, lead singer, and spiritual leader, strolled onto stage, slapping at his bass and dressed completely in black from derby hat to black shoes. Primus, in all their glory, was soon pounding through "Pudding Time."
Mr. Claypool did not fail to spew forth several of his hallmark dialogues, ranging in topic from a guy he knew in El Sobrante named Jerry (who, as you may have guessed drove a fast car to an early grave), and the band's signing with Interscope records (which he used to explain the lyrics to "Sailing the Seas of Cheese"). Seeing Primus live is the only true way to appreciate the humor in their music.
Primus seems to have sworn off performing "Wynona's Big Brown Beaver," much to the chagrin of the MTV Primus fan. This is no disappointment to those who truly appreciate Primus and realize that their arsenal is packed with much stronger musical weapons. Claypool seems to take pleasure in telling the crowd, prior to playing one of their most popular songs, that "this song is called 'My Name is Mud.'" Despite this dislike of the mainstream radio, Primus' records continue to go platinum.
As their "first" finale, Primus let us pet "Tommy the Cat," pausing halfway to highlight Brain's drumming skills. It came as no surprise when, after the band strolled offstage after "Tommy...," that the crowd continued to chant for their return. And return they did, playing a pair of their older tunes including "Too Many Puppies."
After the show, the exhausted crowd had the look of victory that comes with seeing a Primus concert.