Primus – with Mike Watt at the Worcester Auditorium – Review


with Mike Watt at the Worcester Auditorium
by Joe Hacking

We’d never been to the Worcester Memorial Auditorium before, but Primus brought us to the majestic hall on a sweltering August 1st. Our hopes were as high as the barometric readings. A beautiful piece of architecture built after World War I, we knew it would not take long for the old Aud. to reach Earth’s core temperatures.

Ex-Minuteman Mike Watt and his excellent band gave a quick, bass-laden shot of tunage to the assembled room of kids. Watt’s bass talents are largely unreknowned, and that’s a damn shame. He spent most of his too-brief set torturing his instrument to produce his own brand of bass madness. As a bonus, Primus sat in at the end of his set for a bass/drum/guitar overdose.

As the sound of Danny Elfman’s Pee Wee’s Big Adventure soundtrack blared over the PA, the curtains spread to reveal the three lysergic troubadours. Primus have grown in sheer metaphysical power since their last area gig. You can feel them approaching like a mid-summer tropical depression-turned-hurricane. As people plummeted from the balconies into the Sea of Mosh, Primus descended like Hurricane Felix into “Puddin’ Time.” They kept building power through songs like the jiggy “March of Bastards,” the to-the-boards “Professor Nutbutter’s House of Treats,” and the intricate “Miss Blaileen,” threatening to level the entire building with the force they were working up. They peaked during “Blue Collar Tweakers,” stretching the bridge into a tribal throb and throwing in a tease of Pink Floyd’s “Money” for good measure. The room congealed into a vibe of tribal unity.

But the vibe couldn’t get the temperature in the room down, or cure the Aud’s dismal sound system. Bassist Les Claypool, guitarist Larry Lalonde and drummer Tim Alexander have too much to offer an audience for it to get garbled through a muddy mix. While the remainder of the set was strong, featuring excellent versions of “Southbound Pachyderm,” “De Anza Jig” and “Wynona’s Big Brown Beaver,” (all from their latest, Tales From the Punch Bowl) Primus couldn’t deliver the earth-shattering blow that was in the air. But the rabid fans cared little about sound quality or intensity, they were looking for catharsis. They yowled, screamed and hammered the seats of the Aud for Primus’ encore. The chanting of “YOU SUCK!” was deafening. The band returned with the slow and eerie “Bob,” calming the crowd that would otherwise have wreaked havoc upon the city of Worcester.

In the end, the only thing that truly sucked was the sound system.