Primus, the Dead Kenny Gs
North Charleston Performing Arts Center
Primus fans came out of the woodwork last Thursday, alongside a curious crowd of music lovers, young and old. They all converged on the North Charleston Performing Arts Center to experience a rare dose of Les Claypool’s most notable musical incarnation of 27 years, Primus.
The night started with a raucous opening performance by the volatile, punk-inspired jazz of the Dead Kenny G’s, led by saxophone wizard Skerik. Donning greasy curly wigs, face paint, and bloodied polyester leisure suits, the oddball trio treated the audience to a sonic showcase of edgy, uptempo musical experimentation.
Skerik, drummer/percussionist Mike Dillon, and bassist/sax player Brad Houser shifted from classical/jazz sections to funky Afrobeat and Middle Eastern trance to a crowd-rousing version of the Dead Kennedy’s “Kill the Poor.” Claypool would later invite the Dead Kenny G’s onstage (Skerik and Dillon previouslly played in Claypool’s Fancy Band).
Primus hit the stage and released a bass-driven sonic assault on the crowd for over two hours. The extended, one-set show was peppered with obvious favorites like “My Name is Mud” and “Jerry Was a Racecar Driver.” Dipping into some dark and eerie exploratory realms between songs, the band powered through the near seamless set, switching instruments at a moment’s notice, utilizing the full capacity of the often under-utilized PAC sound system.
After introducing a new song from their forthcoming album (due in September on ATO/Prawn Song), Claypool gave a nod to vinyl recordings, scoffing that “digital is just a phase.”
The irreverent, often provocative frontman kept the adoring crowd on their feet, inciting as much indie-rock unruliness as the hawk-eyed event staff would permit. Announcing that it was the last show on their tour before Bonnaroo, Claypool, guitarist Larry “Ler” LaLonde, and drummer Jay Lane held nothing back and treated the crowd to what amounted to unbridled sonic debauchery and a slap-in-the-face to musical convention. Claypool even personally took it on himself to call out a security guard hassling a fan during the encore, to wild cheers from the boisterous audience, who will undoubtedly remember this night as the mind-blowing pop-music protest that it was.