Funk metal legends Primus stopped by Chicago Friday October 14, 2011 in support of their eighth studio release Green Naugahyde (Prawn Song/ATO). Enthusiasts gathered at the sizable Congress Theater for two full sets. The first set was dedicated to old favorites and the second featured the new album in its entirety.
Lead man/bass master Les Claypool was joined by resident Primus guitarist Larry LaLonde and drummer Jay Lane, who spent nine months in the band in 1988. Lane appeared on Primus’ first demo, Sausage and departed before the release of their first album Suck on This. Lane spent significant time playing with Bob Weir of the Grateful Dead in his bands Ratdog and more recently Furthur. He departed Furthur in 2010 to join Primus on a national tour. His energy clicked with Claypool and LaLonde, and the three began writing new material together. Their efforts resulted in Green Naugahyde, Primus’ first studio release in 12 years.
Lane did not come across as hard hitting as previous drummers Tim “Herb” Alexander or Bryan “Brain” Mantia. Instead his style sounded more funky, improvisational and poly-rhythmic with textural fills. His looser drumming paired nicely with Claypool’s dexterous bass skills. With Lane on board the band charged into more experimental jams than I have witnessed in past Primus performances. Together the musicians explored new boundaries of progressive funk and experimental rock that powered the crowd to new heights.
Set one lasted over an hour including at least one song from every studio album, minus 1999’s Antipop (because let’s face it, what were they thinking when they collaborated with Fred Durst?). Primus opened with the colossal “To Defy the Laws of Tradition”, filled with enough bounce and testosterone to charge a premature mosh pit. Included in the set was the popular hit “Jerry was a Race Car Driver” and the dance-ready “Over the Electric Grapevine”.
Set two showcased Green Naugahyde which was a dark, heavy funk full of imbedded textures. In interviews Claypool has noted that the album reminisces a grown-up Frizzle Fry, and I could not agree with him more. Each song was classic Primus rich in slap bass and wit, colored funky with a slick and savvy bounce.
Following Green Naugahyde the band returned to the stage and followed up with a two-song encore. They brought the night to an official end with crowd favorite “Wynona’s Big Brown Beaver”, totaling nearly a three hour performance.
Set 1: To Defy the Laws of Tradition, Duchess and the Proverbial Mind Spread, Groundhog’s Day, The Pressman, Over The Falls, Drum and Whamola Jam, Eleven, Mrs. Blaileen, Jerry Was A Race Car Driver, Over the Electric Grapevine
Set 2: Green Naugahyde in its entirety
Encore: Harold of the Rocks, Wynonna’s Big Brown Beaver