Primus live at the Greek Theatre, Berkeley
Updated: May 9
This Primus tour was unique because they were playing Rush,' 'A Tribute to Kings' album.
This will have been my third time seeing Primus. Although for me the music was not memorable, (other than possibly a tad annoying in its jagged sound), the experience of tonights music was the main point. The last time I saw Primus was at the Emerald Cup a couple years ago. Sweetening that show was the fact that Sean Lennon (son of John), was featured in the band performing with lead, Les Claypool.
This show at the Greek was interesting. Interesting because as a sociological experiment in the middle of a pandemic, it failed dramatically. People around the globe, are still dying and concerts (not just this one) are behaving as if the pandemic is no longer an issue.
This show was all GA, (General Admission). A band called, 'Black Mountain' opened for Primus. The venue looked like it was sold out by the time Primus took the stage. Just like the old days, pre Covid. Crowd surfing, mosh pit, and everyone shoulder to shoulder and mostly maskless. Every show I go to these days, I am left in confusion by the fact that we are still in the pandemic and yet when I look at the people around me, it seems they are unaffected and act without caution at these public events. I'm not shocked that concerts are starting up again, I am shocked that people dont mask up and try to adhere to what science tells us about how this disease spreads. And crowd surfing is more than likely frowned upon by the same scientists, that we are (trying to) trust with our lives.
About the music...I was there because my partner is a huge Rush fan and this tour was billed as, Rushs' A Tribute to Kings show. So, I surprised my guy with tickets and I'm glad I did as I thought that the Rush segment of the show was amazing, and I truly loved it! I wasn't a Rush fan, but over time, am slowly am becoming one.
For me, if Neil Peart was still alive and Rush came to town I may be one of the first to get tickets! But as that can no longer happen, as Peart died a couple years ago. I will seek out things like this, tribute Rush bands and Rush films of past shows instead. I have alot to catch up on, apparentley! I have a new found admiration for them and their music, especially drummer, Peart! He is refferred to as one of the best rock drummers ever! And all you have to do is listen to one song and you'll understand why he is thought of in such high regard.
The first Primus set was what I would call a very fragmented sound. It made me anxious and nervous as Primus music in general does (to me). This is the typical Primus signature sound. Although this was my third time seeing Primus, I never remember their music. This time I will. The first set made me feel very uncomfortable and I just hoped the entire way through that it would stop and change musical direction. It did not....Until the second set. The second set was the Rush part. And it was phenomenal! The Primus drummer, Tim Alexander killed it with his efforts to play like Peart. Although he got much of it right, one can tell it wasn't Neil Peart, but close enough to pass. During the second half of the second set, after The Tribute to Kings segment, they played more Primus music. This time, the sound didnt make me anxious as it was way better, more 'normal' music (in my opinion). It sounded like Primus without the 'jagged' 'fragmented' elements they played in the first set of the evening. Needless to say, I loved the second set! Tim Alexander, the drummer, returned to the band after leaving for 17 years. He was outstanding playing the Rush set. I understand that as a drummer, to replicate Neil Pearts' parts are a challenge to say the least. Neil Peart is a giant in the world of rock drummers, and he will remain there at the top for all of music history. Along with few others such as John Bonham, Keith Moon, and Ginger Baker. Neil Peart is a drummers drummer. Other great rock drummers, such as Kenny Aronoff, Matt Cameron, Gavin Harrison, and Dave Grohl, look up to Peart and his expertise behind the kit.
Les Claypool, bass player and head guy in Primus lays down the funky-est sound one can hear on the bass. Its a very intriguing sound, if nothing else. The way he plays, as he bangs his hand on the strings and frets is unique, and the sound that comes from his style of playing is extremely unusual. Its jumpy, but hypnotic at the same time. Its a very quirky sound indeed. And I came away seeing his talents on the bass. I loved watching him play!
Primus has been around for a long time. They originally formed in 1984 and are made up of, Les Claypool on bass, Larry LaLonde on guitar and Tim Alexander on drums. Trying to put their music in some sort of genre, Claypool once said, they were in the funk metal category but people usually describe them as alternative, or experimental rock. I would liken Primus to a more erratic, fragmented and nervous sounding Zappa. They have a weird blend of funk, driven quirky metal punk with a hallucenigenic overtones.
Primus split up in 2000 and got back together in 2003, because they said that it wasnt fun anymore. But since '03 when they reunited, they continue to tour and sell out to enthusiastic audiences everywhere!
This Berkeley show even had one of my friends' participating...Rock album artist, Roger Dean created the posters for this show. These sold out within the first hour the doors were opened! In the past, they hired artist, Mark Dean Vecca, to design the tour poster. So one thing this band gets right is picking the best of the best to illustrate their tour posters.
The only real beef I would say, is...as a photographer, I wonder why the stage lighting was so bad. All the musicians on stage were as poorly lit as can be. There was back lighting and crowd lighting but no musician lighting to speak of, which made my shoot a difficult one. Hence the limited photographs below.