[14 September 2011]
One of the stranger musical acts to hit the mainstream in the last few decades, Primus are truly the epitome of a ‘power trio’. Their brand of raw, funk-laden psychedelia has been one of the more influential sounds in rock music for quite some time now, yet still no one sounds anything quite like them. Their recent performance at Red Rocks Ampitheater certainly demonstrated to all in attendance that they are a force to be reckoned with.
They opened with the first cut from their classic Frizzle Fry album, “To Defy the Laws of Tradition”, and got the crowd rocking from the get-go. Bandleader and bass player Les Claypool provided plenty of witty banter, much to the amusement of many. The setlist seemed meticulously crafted; they chose several tunes from Antipop and The Brown Album, which have never received very much play, namely “Over The Falls”, a slower psychedelic number that many fans seemed very excited about. The highlight of the set was the heavily extended version of “Southbound Pachyderm” that saw quite a bit of spacious, trippy improvisation from the band. Guitarist Larry Lelonde and drummer Jay Lane provided ample support for Claypool’s hard grooving low-end onslaught, and they certainly were taking chances out on that stage.
Also performed were several songs off their then not-yet released album Green Naugahyde, the most noteworthy being “Lee Van Cleef”, a bluesy song that featured excellent playing from Lelonde. Fan favorites “My Name is Mud”, “Tommy The Cat”, “John The Fisherman” and “Groundhog’s Day” were also memorable performances. Truly one of the better shows this summer concert season, Primus reminds us that they are still here, and still growing.
Following Primus’ knockout showing, The Flaming Lips took the stage to cover Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon in it’s entirety. The energy in the crowd ran high as frontman Wayne Coyne grabbed the microphone and began explaining what was about to occur. First, while the band started to play, Wayne would get in his bubble and attempt to reach the center of the Red Rocks crowd. He was indeed successful. This was, however, the most impressive part of their set.
They gave a relatively straightforward performance of Dark Side with a few extra bells and whistles, but it never touched that inspired rare ether that the record itself was born of. It seemed overly gimmicky, with the music running secondary to the lights and stage production, and Coyne seemed far too preoccupied with sharing his ramblings with the audience, and while the idea of intertwining renditions of songs from The Wizard of Oz into the set was particularly clever (Dark Side of Oz, anyone?), it severely detracted from the continuous nature of the album.
All in all, a fun evening of music, but the fact of the matter is that it would be hard for anybody to have to follow such an immense band as Primus, let alone The Flaming Lips. They performed an uninspired cover set that was so full of tricks and stunts that it couldn’t possibly have been about the music anymore.
The Flaming Lips: