Archive for the ‘Primus’ Category

[CANCELLED: June 19, 2020] The Struts / The Glorious Sons / JJ Wilde

indexThe Struts are a young British band who opened for Foo Fighters when we saw them.  But we arrived literally just as the Foos were going onstage. We didn’t see any of The Struts.  Although they did come out and join the Foos later in the set.

Reviews have been pretty great about The Struts, and I’d like to see them.  Although it’s unlikely I would have gone to a Summer Stage show for them, (especially since I was supposed to see Primus tonight)  if they come back around and play somewhere smaller I’d consider going.

The Glorious Sons are a Canadian band who seems to play anthemic “modern rock.”  I’ll bet they are really fun in a big arena.  I’m not sure how well it would translate on a smaller stage, but if the crowd was into it they’d be fun.

JJ Wilde is a Canadian singer songwriter who plays quiet balladish songs with big choruses.  Her voice is pretty powerful, although I feel like her mood is wrong for this tour. (Nevertheless, she has toured with The Glorious Songs before).


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[POSTPONED: June 19, 2020] Primus / Wolfmother / The Sword [moved to July 10, 2021]

indexI’ve been a fan of Primus since their first album.  And yet I never saw them live once they started to make it big.  I’m not keen on the frat boy fanbase they inexplicably developed, but what can you do.

I’ve wanted to see them for a long time and I’ve had a few shows snatched out of my hands.

I did get to see them recently, although it was for a new EP, so they didn’t play a lot of the old stuff like I’d wanted to hear.

Of course, when they announced this tour: A Tribute to Kings, in which they’d be playing all of Rush’s A Farewell to Kings (possibly my favorite Rush album, depending on the day), I knew I’d have to go.  Since that album is relatively short, I assumed they be playing some good old Primus songs too.

Wolfmother is a band I didn’t know.  I listened to a couple of songs and they sound like a pretty classic late 80s metal band with a loud, high-pitched vocalist.  I would have loved this band back then, and while I wouldn’t go out of my way to see them, it would be fun to relive a band like this live.  The band is from Australia and has an utterly fascinating history of in-fighting and replacements (Wikipedia has a page devoted just to Wolfmother band members).

The Sword is another retro-metal band, sounding an awful lot like Black Sabbath and other classic old school metal groups.  Once again, I would have loved them back in the day, and would no doubt enjoy rocking out to them live.

I hope that the rescheduled date is not too far off, but I’ve waited forever to see them, so I can wait a little longer.  It would be fine if the opening bands stayed with them, but if not, that’s okay too.

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[ATTENDED: April 12, 2019] The Claypool Lennon Delirium

Nearly two years and a half years ago I saw The Claypool Lennon Delirium at the Fillmore.  Once again, this year they were playing the Fillmore.  But it was on a night that T. was doing a school play.  There is no way I would choose Les Claypool over my daughter, so I didn’t get tickets.  Then they moved her play to Thursday instead.  I could go!

But then WXPN announced that The Claypool Lennon Delirium would be doing a Free at Noon.  And that seemed like the best of both worlds–I’d get to see the band and it wouldn’t be a) at night or b) at the Fillmore (which was too big and crowded for me when I saw them).  I said I’d never do another Free at Noon because I basically had to take off four hours of work to do it, but for these guys it was a no-brainer and totally worth it.

And really, who doesn’t like to take off four hours of work. (more…)

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[ATTENDED: June 1, 2018] Primus

My friend Al and I saw Primus back in 1990 or 1991.  It was an amazing show and I have been a fan ever since.  And yet for some reason I had never seen them live again.  During all of their iterations and tours–headlines, festivals, everything.  In recent years I have really wanted to see them but something always kept me from going.

I missed their Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (2014) show because of a vacation.   I somehow missed a summerstage tour in 2015 with two other bands I would have loved to see.  There was no local show in 2016 and then I was busy in 2017.  So here it was, finally a chance to see them.  (Setlists for those shows do show rather few songs, I must admit…really I should have gone to the two-set shows back in 2012).

Anyhow, it had been nearly 30 years and I was excited to see anything.

So it’s a bit of a shame I couldn’t see much.  I don’t know if their light show was designed more for outside, but in this cavernous dark auditorium, the band members were almost entirely obscured. (more…)

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[ATTENDED: June 1, 2018] Mastodon

I saw Mastodon two years ago.  The band was great, but I left the show somewhat unsatisfied.  Was it the venue (Electric Factory, I think so); was it the crowd (a large and unceasing mosh pit, I think so).

I felt like I wanted to see them again.  But when they came back around a year later, I decided against it.  In part because it was the same venue and in part because it was an all day event with four bands (most of whom I liked, but that’s practically a festival).  A note on the setlist says that Brent Hinds was visibly upset with technical problems the whole show, so I’m glad I didn’t go.  Especially since this show’s setlist was very similar.

When this tour was announced co-headliners Primus and Mastodon, it seemed pretty ideal.  I have been wanting to see Primus and here was redemption for Mastodon–I’ve been pretty happy with the shows I’ve seen at Summer Stage.

Well, a thunderstorm was forecast for the entire day in Asbury Park, so they moved the show inside.  It wound up not raining at all, but you have to make a decision early when you have so much gear and they made the right choice–even if it may not have sounded as good.

But Mastodon sounded great.  The crowd wasn’t that large for them, I was surprised to see.  A largish pit started in the middle but it never really took off that much.  It was nicely contained and I was on the edge of it, where I like to be.

I like nearly everything Mastodon has released, although I don;t really know which album the songs come from.  So I didn’t even realize that so many songs came from their newest album Emperor of Sand (7 of 17).

The one good thing about it being inside is that it was still light out when they went on, but it was dark inside, which meant that their backgrounds and visuals worked well. (more…)

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[ATTENDED: June 1, 2018] All Them Witches 

I didn’t know All Them Witches before this show.  And I don’t know them after this show.  Parking in Asbury Park was pretty rough and, it being after Memorial Day traffic was worse than when I had driven down there in the winter.

Because of the impending torrential thunderstorm (which never actually materialized), the show was moved from the Stone Pony Summer Stage to Conventional Hall.  It was the right decision given the forecast, but….well, whatever.

Anyhow, I missed them entirely.  I walked in as they were packing up their gear.


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I got this Free Ep at a VoirVoir (not Voir Voir) show in Bethlehem.  This EP contains four songs.

Two of them are new and two are re-recordings of songs from their debut album.

“Quit It All” is a bit poppier than their debut album.  The 90s synth is a nice touch to this song which, make no mistake, still rocks.   The middle noise section (skronking guitar solo and great drums) is a highlight as are the catchy verses.  The band even submitted a video for the Tiny Desk Contest (I had no idea).

“Sides” is perhaps one of the best catchy alt rock songs I’ve heard in years and I am bummed that they didn’t get recognized for it.  It’s got a great 90s alt-rock sound and wonderful harmonies in the backing vocals.  There’s a video for this song as well.  You can also stream the song on bandcamp.

The other two songs, “Stupid for Now” and “There are No Good Goodbyes” were recorded at WDIY (Lehigh Valley’s Community NPR Station) in a stripped down format.  You can stream the songs here.  It’s interesting to hear them without the fuzz and drums.  The songs are solid and work very well although I do like the originals better.  The show also includes an interview with the three members who play the stripped down show.  The DJ asks their influences and while main singer guitarist Matt Molchany demurs,  April Smith says Built to Spill) and Josh Maskornick says Primus and Superchunk.

And if you can’t get enough (since they haven’t released that much) here’s a live show from Shards.

[READ: January 10, 2016 & January 10, 2018] Goldfish Memory

For some reason, I read this book back in 2016 and then didn’t post about it–I felt like I needed to read it again, and so I waited almost exactly two years and re-read it and enjoyed it even more this second time.  Almost like actual goldfish memory.

The back of this book made the stories sound really compelling:  “what does it mean to have a connection with someone? This is the question these brilliant short stories try to answer.”  The note said that this was the first translation of Monique Schwitter’s form-breaking work.  The translation was by Eluned Gramich.

I’m not sure how form-breaking these stories are, but they are certainly interesting.  They remind me in some ways of Julie Hecht–a narrator who is connected to people but very distantly.  But while Hecht’s narrators are critical and dismissive of everyone, Schwitter’s narrators just seem to be incapable of connecting properly.  You can feel the longing in the distance between them.  I also like how these missed connections cover all kinds of relationships–familial, sexual, friendship, professional, even passing acquaintances.

Few of the characters seem to be able to tell anyone else how they really feel–even when they are dying.  There is sadness at loss, but a kind of c’est la vie about it as well.  And all along, Schwitter’s writing is consistently excellent and the stories are really enjoyable. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: PHISH-Vegas 96 (2007).

This show was recorded at the Aladdin Theatre in Las Vegas, Nevada, on December 6, 1996.  The set also includes a DVD.

The show has a great amount of classic songs, a few big rarities, some cool covers and a whole lot of surprises.

Wilson has a really rocking beginning (everyone is going nuts during the can you still have any fun) until just before the “blap boom” part when it slows to a halt with about 20 seconds of squalling feedback.  Then they launch into an excellent non-jamming version of Frank Zappa’s “Peaches en Regalia.”  It is followed by a fast romp through “Poor Heart”—one of the fastest I’ve heard.  It ends really noisily and then segues into a funky jam that’s mostly keyboard.  After 5 minutes it resolves into “2001,” which also ends noisily with scratchy guitars that segue into a very fast “Llama.”

This has been a simply rip-roaring show thus far.  And then they settle down for a 26-minute “You Enjoy Myself.”  The “Boy Man” section is very funky and the following jam stays funky with a lot of high-pitched bass soloing from Mike and a lot of percussion thrown in as well.  The song ends with a vocal jam but instead of doing weird sounds and screams, trey starts singing “doh doh doh donuts, I like donuts.”

I tend to think of “YEM” as set-enders (since that’s my experience with them), but this is still mid-set and they follow up with a synth and piano version of “Cars Trucks Buses” which seems like it’s going to morph into “Kung” but instead it becomes a loud, brash “Down with Disease.”  The set ends with a rocking “Frankenstein.”  I tend to thing they play this and “YEM” a lot because they seem to be on a ton of official live recordings.

Set 2 opens with a funky “Julius” (a song I always assume is a cover but which isn’t), and a nice version of “Sparkle” (with a super fast “laughing laughing” section at the end).  “Mike’s Song” runs about 10 minutes with a really noisy middle section and then segues into “Simple.”  There’s a lengthy piano section that turns into a rocking jam that goes on for quite a while (the whole song is over 18 minutes).  It winds down eventually and returns to a lot of piano.  It is followed by a noisy and raucous “Harry Hood” that feel really raw.  The song is 15 minutes and there’s a long solo before the “you can feel good” part.

Then comes a big, 11 minute “Weekapaug Groove.”  About midway through the jam the whole band stops dramatically and perfectly. They run through a bit again and stop perfectly again (except for an extra snare hit).  It’s amazing how tight they are.  The end grows very quiet as the band prepares for a quiet a capella “Sweet Adeline” (it’s so quiet all you hear is the crowd shushing everyone–this is the major downside to them doing these barbershop songs).  They come out of that with a set-ending, totally rocking cover of Led Zeppelin’s “Good Times Bad Times,” with Fish singing the “I know what it means to be alone” part.

The encore proves to be about 35 minutes long.  There are lots of guests and surprises.  And the band walks through a version of the “Harpua” story.  Ler and Les from Primus come out to start the song.  The chorus is done in half time—which is rather unsettling.  The story leads to Les singing Don Bowman’s “Wildwood Weed.”  I had assumed he made up but he obviously didn’t.  Then it’s back to “Harpua.”   In this version of the story, Jimmy walks to Vegas with his cat Poster Nutbag (Trey tells everyone to put all their money on 17).  As they get “closer to Vegas” they hear voices singing “I Want to Be a Cowboy’s Sweetheart” (a song by Patsy Montana).  It is sung by the Yodeling Cowgirls.  (There’s some “Happy Trails” in there as well).  Then there’s more of the “Harpua” story and as they approach Las Vegas they see Four Elvises.  Which leads to a singoff of “Suspicious Minds.”  This contest was between four Elvis impersonators with Fish joining in at the end.  Unmentioned (as far as I can tell) are John McEuen of the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band (on backing vocals) and actor Courtney Gains (on percussion). And then everyone launches into a wild “Suzy Greenberg” including the Elvises.  During the jam at the end, one of the Elvises turns the song into “Susie Q.”

This is one of my favorite shows.  The inclusion of the Primus guys and the crazy version of “Harpua” is just spectacular.  And by the end, everyone is having a great time.

[READ: April 1, 2017] “Las Gaviotas”

I enjoyed the way this story seemed really unsettled, just like its protagonist.

Finley is a in a relationship with Neil.  But she is currently hanging out at Brace’s apartment.  Brace is Neil’s old roommate.  Neil is in the other room with Brace’s girlfriend Alice.  They are all pretty drunk.

Brace is everything that Neil is not: he is big–not fat, just big–with a voice and presence to match.  And while Finley loves Neil–she keeps telling us that–there’s something about Brace (that name!) that she is drawn to.  She also hates Brace’s girlfriend Alice who has “otherworldly beauty.” (more…)

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[ATTENDED: July 16, 2016] Dinosaur Jr.

2016-07-16 19.49.10I have wanted to see Dinosaur Jr for many years.  I intended to see them last year when they toured with Primus, but I couldn’t get to the show.  So I was pretty excited that they were touring again, this time with Jane’s Addiction.

I had never been to a Stone Pony Summer Stage (never been to The Stone Pony either) and I didn’t really know what to expect (reviews on Yelp are pretty harsh).  Things got even more questionable when the weather turned nasty.  The show was supposed to start at 6, but as of 4:30 there was a huge thunderstorm in Absury Park, so they delayed the opening of the show.  And since there were more storms threatening for later, it was possible that it might get cancelled.

Just to make things a little more unsatisfying, Living Colour was supposed to be the first band on the bill.  I’ve never seen them and while I wouldn’t go out of my way to see them, I thought they’d be a lot of fun live.  I found out yesterday (although this was probably decided much earlier) that they weren’t playing in this show (they are in Germany), and that Minus the Bear would be opening instead.

I don’t know Minus the Bear (a lot of bands with names like “noun the noun” lately, and I don’t really know any of them).  I listened to a few songs before the show and thought they might be fun.  But the gates didn’t wind up opening until 8PM, so Minus the Bear didn’t even play. (more…)

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Achoclnd after all of that, we catch up to present day Primus.  And this time Tim Alexander is back with them again!  I was supposed to see Primus at a small theater when they toured for the chocolate Factory.  And because of a planning snafu I didn’t get to go.  I had wanted to see the show live before hearing the album.  Sigh.

I was thinking about Les Claypool and covers.  He does a lot of them.  Even though he is clearly a creative tour de force, he also likes to revisit stuff.  His live albums are full of covers, and the Duo de Twang mostly revisited songs he had already done, not to mention how he has re-recorded almost all the songs from Primus’ debut at one point or another.

So it comes as no surprise to me that they would cover the entire Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory soundtrack.

The thing to know right off the bat is that Les Claypool is a rather dark and disturbed individual.  And that means that this cover recording is really much more dark and nightmarish than the original (which is quite sweet).  Now true, Wonka is a really dark and creepy figure, and maybe that’s what Les was playing off when he constructed this carnivalesque, dark funhouse mirror version of soundtrack.

And your tolerance for that (and your love of the original) will say whether or not you enjoy this.

This is not fun goofy Primus, this is dark Primus of the “My Name is Mud” and Mushroom Men variety.

“Hello Wonkites” opens this disc with dark and slow bass strings and a slow and menacing melody.  “Candy Man” one of the sweetest songs ever is turned incredibly dark with hypnotic vibes and weird bowed bass sounds.  The way they speed up parts of the song are really disturbing and his vocals are creepy as anything.  This tells you all you need to know about this recording.

“Cheer up, Charlie” is a little bit sweeter as it opens with cellos. But Les’ vocal is weird and a little, yes, disturbing,  Although I don’t really like the original very much so this one works better for me.  “Golden Ticket” is also quite sinister with the mad carnival sounds and the stomping bass.  “Lermaninoff” is a cool 5 second reprise of the Rachmaninoff lock in the movie.

“Pure Imagination” is probably the least creepy of all the songs, although it is still dark and ominous.   It features a lot of percussion, and I read somewhere that Tim doesn’t really play drums on this record, he just hits all kinds of crap that’s around him.  There’s a long instrumental section that is pretty cool.

There are four versions of the Oompa Loompa song, just like in the movie.  Each one is about a minute and a half long.  They’re each quite similar and faithful to the original’s creepy vibe.  They might do better to be spaced out more, but it’s still fun.  The “Semi Wondrous Boat Ride” is actually not nearly as creepy as the original.  “Wonkamobile” is just over a minute long and it is just Les being Les.

“I Want It Now” features lead vocals by Ler!  I don’t know that we’ve ever heard him sing anywhere before.  He doesn’t have a great voice (or he’s trying to be bratty, it’s hard to tell), but it’s such a welcome change to have someone else singing on the disc.

My favorite track is “Goodbye Wonkites” which has a very cool Pink Floyd feel.  The instrumentation is the same as “Hello” but the guitars have this great echo, and the chords that Ler is playing (yes normal chords) sound very much like Pink Floyd to me.  It’s a cool instrumental.

Even though I don’t love this soundtrack, I’d still like to see the stage show that they create for it, which I imagine is just insane.

And that brings an end to the Primus land–a month’s worth of Les and the boys.

That there’s a bad egg.

[READ: January 29, 2015] “Apple Cake”

This story is about a woman who has just entered hospice care.  And yet surprisingly it is not all that sad.

Jeanne was the youngest sister.  Her to older sisters Sylvia and Helen are very different but both were quite upset that it was their baby sister who would die first (even though none of them was actually young).

Since she was in hospice, the family was gathered around pretty much all the time.  The sisters were there constantly and her sons and nieces and nephews all took time off to pay their last respects.  But Jeanne lingered–despite doctors saying that she had only a day or two left, she continued to seem rather strong and coherent.

And really this story turns out to be more about the fighting between the healthy sisters–and their children.  Will they defer to Jeanne’s wishes–like when she asks for a bagel even though she hasn’t eaten solid foods in weeks?  And, most importantly, will they honor Jeanne’s wishes about her death–she wants no funeral, no ceremony, not even a burial.  Or will they follow tradition and have a rabbi preside over her.

And so this fight comes down to Helen and Sylvia.  Even though Jeanne has made her intentions clear to her sons, Helen and Sylvia have always been at odds and will continue to be so: “There was simply the great divide between them: Helen told the truth, while Sylvia tried to paper over everything.”  Helen is insistent that Jeanne see a rabbi and have a proper burial.  But Sylvia and everyone else finds it disrespectful.

And in her grief, Helen begins baking.  After all, she was the baker of the family–Sylvia hadn’t baked in years because her husband was diabetic.  She made apple cake (which was pretty good), almond cookies (which were less so) and a pecan bar which was, well, left uneaten.  And so the food starts piling up, because Helen never threw anything away.

Then one day Sylvia brought in an apple cake, warm and fragrant.  Even Jeanne remarked on how good it smelled.  Which gets Helen indignant.

“It’s my recipe,” Helen said, “I gave that recipe to Sylvia twenty years ago.”
“Yes I remember,” Jeanne said, “she bakes a very good apple cake.”
“I bake the same one!  I brought you apple cake last week.”
“I know, but I like hers better,” Jeanne said.

Eventually Helen convinced the rabbi to see Jeanne.  The rabbi is friendly and accepts that Jeanne is an atheist–Jeanne was looking for a fight but he was very kind.  And she even concedes that she could be buried in her plot.

When Jeane eventually dies, they agree to a simple ceremony.  Helen tries to make it more religious–saying that Jeanne agreed to it–but she is unable to hijack the ceremony.  Sylvia is off course pot off by Helen’s behavior and gets rather sulky.

At the gathering afterward, they agreed it would be catered and no one would bring baked goods.  But as the day dragged on, there suddenly came the smell of fresh-baked apple cake.  The nuclear option had been pulled.

I really enjoyed this story and the inner workings of passive aggressive family troubles.  And the way that Jeanne seemed to supervise the whole thing.

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