by Alejandro Hernandez.
Utah State Fairpark Coliseum, Salt Lake City, UT, USA. October 5, 1993.
The last time Utah saw Primus, it was through a dust cloud kicked up at the Weber County Fairgrounds by thousands of Lollapalooza fanatics.
At the Utah State Fairpark Coliseum in Salt Lake City on Tuesday night, the only obstacles to seeing this dynamic and quirky San Francisco trio were the people jumping in front of you.
But jumpers were unavoidable without climbing way into the stands of the sold-out cattle barn. Primus staccato rhythms worked their way through the crowd like giant nerve impulses, turning the entire floor of the Coliseum into an enormous mosh pit. The difference between standing in the back and being up front was that there was less chance in back of someone being body-passed on top of you.
Primus ticked through an energetic 70-minutes set, largely drawing songs from its latest album Pork Soda. On songs like My Name Is Mud and DMV, the band displayed its trademark sound: machine-gun bursts of Les Claypool's bass, the Surfaris-on-speed drumming of Tim "Herb" Alexander, and the swooping guitar licks of Larry LaLonde.
Topping it all off was Claypool giving voices to his own lyrics, like a congested carnival barker reciting warped nursery rhymes about Department of Motor Vehicles clerks, suicidal roommates and cans of pork soda. (Diehard fans were disappointed by the omission of some of the band's hits like Mr. Krinkle and Tommy the Cat.)
The stage was largely unadorned, though a variety of images-light bulbs, ships in port, Rock'em Sock'em Robots- were projected on a back screen. (The band's entrance was also announced on the rear screen, with a drive-in movie intermission film that included dancing hot-dogs and marching ice-cream bars.)
The band also broke into some jazzy instrumental riffs, highlighted by Claypool's elastic bass performance-wich imitated everything from a creaking boat to a didgeridoo.
Primus wrapped up the show with two short, snappy encores. For Primus, encores are not perfunctory; an audience has really want the band to come back. True to the band's tradition, the audience chanted "Primus sucks!" to dare the trio back on-stage.
The audience practiced by shouting the word "suck" at the warm-up act, but without the irony. The Melvins, a band from Aberdeen, Washington that is considered an early influence on Seattle's music scene, performed a daring 45-minute deconstruction of grunge that drew mostly boos.
The Melvins' dark songs were rooted primarily in a half-speed metal throb that was not so much heard as felt through one's shoes. But the tempo was too slow for the speed-driven Primus fans, and even a pair of closing thrash numbers couldn't win them back.