Primus Still Sucks, Ambushes Albany’s Palace Theatre

Primus has never fit the mold of conventional music, so it was only fitting the trio helped kick off Halloween weekend in appropriately eccentric style. Playing to a sold out crowd of not only those who grew up on Primus in the eighties, the packed Palace Theatre housed an audience that ranged from elementary-aged, youthful rockers to unsuspecting parents with college students. Having only performed in Albany three times prior, the fourth run-around brought tricks on stage and treats in unique encores as bodies dressed head to toe in spider webs, sequin dresses and spooky masks trashed around for a three-hour show.

Equipped with video screens behind them, Les Claypool, Larry LaLonde and Tim Alexander began the night with the help of quirky British flash animation series, Saladfingers, as the first set was jam-packed with Primus favorites. Quickly following, “Too Many Puppies” spiked ultimate excitement in the regal downtown Albany venue. While the short, hard-hitting tracks seemed fleeting, “Sgt. Baker” found its way into an energizing “Too Many Puppies” sandwich as technicolor prisms were projected onto the Palace ceiling and Claypool stomped circles around the stage with grit. More classics like “Last Salmon Man,” “Mr. Crinkle” with a Zeppelin “Kashmir” tease and “My Name is Mud” popped up throughout the set with tempo-matching,  psychedelic video footage before a fun “Candy Man” called for clips of hypnotizing and colorful candy-like claymation.

LaLonde and Les Claypool left the stage for an anticipated drum solo as a hooded Alexander led the show. Claypool shortly returned while sporting a pig mask and breaking out the Whamola for entrancing sounds. This time, the video projections offered clips of instrument strumming, as it matched up perfectly in sync with the live strums of Claypool’s Whamola. Interacting with the audience every so often with small interjections like “beautiful building you’ve got here,” Les Claypool asked the crowd to guess the ending track of set one with the firm strike of one note. Without a doubt– “Jerry Was A Racecar Driver” would close out the night with clips from the music video displayed symbiotically.

Trading in a pig mask for a ram head, set two unleashed the force behind the Ambushing the Storm tour as Primus shredded through their latest studio effort, The Desaturating Seven, finding applause during every passing silence.  Eerie cartoon goblins found their way dancing across the screens in the Palace, the same ones from an Italian children’s book, The Rainbow Goblins. The newest album was heavily influenced on the Ul De Rico-written book, one Les Claypool used to read to his children. Played front to back, the unique seven-track album reminded everyone why Primus still sucks after all these years. On the heels of ending a grimy Halloween weekend performance, the trio ended with a triple-header of an encore with special dedications to the devastating fires in California. “Groundhog’s Day,” “Wynona’s Big Brown Beaver” and one they rarely ever play, “Tommy the Cat,” all welcomed extended guitar solos and wicked improvisation from LaLonde as well as shrieks and rock on symbols from the crowd. 

With their last Palace Theatre gig in 2014 and before that 2009, for some this was a short-lived chance to catch the seasoned rockers in person.  There are two situations where walking by talking animals and skipping pirates is the norm: during halloween festivities and leaving a Primus show,  as a satisfied audience quickly flooded out of the venue and infiltrated an already amped up South Pearl Street crowd. 

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