Primus at Ruth Eckerd Hall: ram horns, goblins, and dark themes


By Raven Pihonak, Journalist and Chyrisse Tabone, Photographer- Rock At Night Tampa Bay

Venue: Ruth Eckerd Hall, Clearwater, Florida–November 11, 2017- TOUR: Ambushing The Storm 2017 Fall Tour


When you Think of Primus you think of comical lyrics, pig heads, unusual masks and funk metal–and that’s still their M.O.. As a long time Primus fan I finally had the pleasure of seeing them live at Ruth Eckerd Hall in Clearwater, Florida on Saturday night. There was no opening band and Primus took the stage at about 8:15pm and opened with the song “American Life” from their 1991 album Sailing the Seas of Cheese, an unusual pick, followed quickly into the radio played popular “Wynonna’ Big Brown Beaver” that really got the crowd pumping.

Les Claypool

The band played two more songs in row before bassist Les Claypool talked to the audience, with a comment about “ being in Clearwater, Florida” and calling it “Gatorland.” Les Claypool led the band out and they wasted no time with a picture of the album cover of Frizzle Fry that appeared on the screen as they played that song. Therefore, the old school fans were elated with this start while playing songs off of arguably their best albums. The band played two songs from their non-commercial Green Naugahyde album, the funky “Lee Van Cleef” and “Last Salmon Man.” The crowd was fired up, and everyone was standing throughout the show, with ages ranging between 12  and mid- to upper 50’s, many wearing their old time Primus t-shirts.

After a short intermission the band started their second set with songs from their new album The Desaturating Seven with two main singles that were releases from the album. The 7-track album with short song titles that included the word “The” in every song like, “The Seven” and “The Scheme.” The second set featured Les Claypool on stage with a black, short robe and wearing ram horns on his head.  I did notice the roadie and instrument techs were all dressed in black robes with hoods over their head, almost giving you the impression of Druids from a Dark Cult or something. Songs from the new album featured a “Goblin” theme and seemed a bit dark for Primus, but the music was very good.  It appeared to be more instrumental or Dark Metal Funk as I would call it. This was the first time since the 1999 Antipop album that all three original members were reunited. Overall, you cannot beat the great music of one of the best underground bands of all time!

Editor’s Note:

This was my first time seeing Primus and all I can describe it as “a total sensory overload”.  You have to feel Primus. You have to taken in the music, listen to the nuances, watch the avant garde videos, lasers and kaleidoscopic visuals projected on the floor, and take in the aroma of marijuana that was wafting in the air to live the total psychedelic experience. It is hard to believe how intricate and full the music sounds–and there are only three people!  Claypool’s bass playing is ethereal yet totally percussive and primeval.  The first set was totally funky and danceable but the second set was dark, almost Prog Rock in nature.  Do NOT miss seeing Primus! They do play in the dark and it’s difficult to shoot photos of them but man, what an experience!

Set List

  • Set 1

  • American Life
  • Wynona’s Big Brown Beaver
  • Too Many Puppies
  • Sgt. Baker (Shortened, with “Too Many Puppies” reprise)
  • Frizzle Fry
  • Over the Falls
  • Lee Van Cleef
  • Amos Moses (Jerry Reed cover)
  • Welcome to This World (Shortened, -> Mrs. Blaileen)
  • Mrs. Blaileen
  • My Name Is Mud
  • Over the Electric Grapevine
  • Set 2:

  • The Desaturating Seven
  • The Valley
  • The Seven
  • The Trek
  • The Scheme
  • The Dream
  • The Storm
  • The Ends
  • Encore:

  • Fisticuffs
  • Here Come the Bastards
  • Harold of the Rocks

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