Riddles are Abound Tonight with Mermen and Tilt

by Tim Parkyn (timp@exploratorium.edu).

October 15, 1994 - Fillmore Auditorium, San Francisco.

I had been waiting for this show for weeks. It was to be my first show at the Fillmore, SF's most famous club from the 60's heydays. In a way, this was local band night with the Mermen, a power-surf trio from SF; Tilt from somewhere in the East Bat, and Sausage from El Cerrito and other lands of that sort.

We got into the Filmore just as the Mermen's set began. My friends all picked up their free apples (as is tradition at the Fillmore) put I passed on mine. The Mermen are probably the hottest surf band around right now. I'd call them a power trio: no vocals (with the exception of the occasional "eiee-ee-ee"), great guitar by Jim Thomas, ripping bass and drums. Their first release "Food for Other Fish" captures their live sound well. I've seen the Mermen about ten times, and this was a very solid set, but they did seem a little hesitant. I caught some new jams in the songs, and at least one new original. They did two or three encores.

I didn't see much of Tilt. We retired to the Poster Room, where along with a bar and food, they have (I assume) a poster of every single show that's ever been held at the Filmore. All the old SF sixties bands (I'm not going to name them), Miles Davis, Red Hots w/ Primus (I missed that show), maybe even the Worm Farm Band. Anyway during Tilt's show, I had some beers in the poster room. We did go out front to have a session, but Tilt didn't keep me out there. I went back for more beer (i was thirsty). My friend Kevin sez, "there're pretty good."

I must say at this point I had never seen Sausage, I haven't even bought the CD. I have heard a couple of cuts on the radio. I have seen Primus many times (at least 20), so what follows is a Primus fan's first Sausage show. I was really interested to see Sausage 'cuz I had seen Todd Huth play with Primus one time in Marin County (north of SF). He just played one song (instead of Lar), and I didn't think much of his playing at the time. Jay Lane, subject of much controversy on this home page, plays with Charlie Hunter Trio and also with an outfit called Jungle Biscuit.

Sausage came out, Les on the left side of the stage (when the facing stage), and Todd on the right. Les was wearin' some kinda flaky polyester shirt and some of those smokey-red sunglasses. The floor instantly turned into a pit. After the first song, the crowd was yelling "you suck...you suck...you suck". Les came up to the mic and said, "I think you're confusing us with some other local band. . .their name escapes me right now". I'll say right now I don't know the name of Sausage songs, with the exception of "Toys", so I won't try to critique each one. Most of their songs seemed to go from a mellow part, with Les' vocal barely audible, into a hard jam and back and forth. I was surprised to see the pit goin' so hard when Sausage was in a jam - because to say it straight off, they weren't jammin that hard. The sound was really good, I could see and hear Les play clearly, but I've seen him really -I mean really- rip. But tonight didn't seem like one of those times. He wasn't bouncing around the stage like his usual self, and even though this wasn't Primus show, I expected him to go off a bit more, especially with his original bandmates.

Todd's guitar was pretty clean, it was great to hear the man who written Primus' original tunes. I could definitely hear how that original Primus style - made famous by Larry LaLond- came into being. I think Todd's best part was when they broke into a bluegrass song - the audience didn't seem to get it, but the band looked like they were having fun. Jay Lane's percussion was solid, but not too exciting. Tim DeGaugh (drummer for SF's ThreeO) was with me at the show. Lemme add here that Tim DeGaull does not like Tim Alexander's (Primus) playing style. Myself, I think Tim Alexander is one of the greatest drummers ever. There has been some debate on this homepage about Jay Lane, especially his playing on the album. In fact, I wrote in to the controversy, saying Jay was a fine drummer. My friend Tim is kind of jazz drummer, as is Jay, and we were hoping to see Jay go off. We kept waiting, but as the set ended, we left unimpressed with his style. Maybe rock ain't his thing.

And all in all, that was the main feeling from the show - unimpressed. I guess I expected more. Sausage played a solid set, with a couple of encores, but they never really ripped. Everyone I spoke with that went to the show said words to about the same effect - it wasn't bad, but, sorry to say, it wasn't great either.

The Cheesy Primus Page || Ram Samudrala || me@ram.org