Primus

The Joint at the Hard Rock Hotel, June 22

Since re-forming nearly 10 years ago, Primus’ core sound has remained essentially unchanged from its earliest days, fueled by Les Claypool’s virtuoso bass playing and cartoon-like vocals. But while the band’s eclectic funk-metal fusion remains intact, the trio’s performances reflect Claypool’s immersion in the jam-band scene over the past decade.

Touring behind Green Naugahyde, their first studio album since 1999, Primus sprinkled its set with old and new songs alike, opening with longtime fan favorite “Those Damn Blue-Collar Tweekers,” its pulsating bass line lifting the crowd like a musical shot of methamphetamine.

Once embraced primarily by headbangers and alt-rock fans, Primus’ fan base has expanded as Claypool side projects such as Oysterhead and the Flying Frog Brigade have taken a more explorative approach. That attitude has now permeated Primus’ live show, with guitarist Larry LaLonde being the main beneficiary. He was allowed to stretch out during many songs, delivering an aggressive, Pink Floyd-ish solo that enhanced “Southbound Pachyderm,” and channeling his inner Zappa during “Frizzle Fry.”

Of course, the star remains Claypool and all his glorious weirdness. The 48-year-old donned his pig mask and bowed upright bass for “Eternal Consumption Engine” and “Mr. Krinkle,” giving both songs an added layer of mystery and absurdity. It’s good to see that growing old doesn’t necessarily mean growing up. ★★★★☆

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