Writing about Primus is like trying to stuff a baboon into a sack — there’s no right way to do it. What can be said about a band that so distinctly filters out any shades of gray? How many times can a writer sit down and type out how Les Claypool is the Zappa of the MTV generation? Few prominent bands have inspired such fervent devotion or dismissal. If you’re not thinking (as the band would say) “Primus sucks!” you’re probably thinking Primus sucks. Fence sitting is a relatively unknown phenomenon in the Primus universe.
After a career spanning three decades, these guys are as Primus as they’ve ever been. Claypool and Co. show no signs of shutting down the ride, as they prepare to come to town next week in support of the group’s latest album, Green Naugahyde. For those of you already familiar with the band, nothing written here will change your mind — you already have your ticket or you’re busy winding your cassette copy of Kill ‘Em All. (Fun fact: Claypool tried out for Metallica after Cliff Burton died only to be told that he was “too good”).
But for those of you with ears free of sonic beef and cheese, I say this: Primus is the soundtrack to a sixth-circle carnival designed by Tim Burton and the Swedish chef from the Muppets. This band is what would happen if a young Tom Waits listened to Black Sabbath and replaced his usual junk and whiskey with a steady diet of psychedelics and speed. If you want to see one of the most original bands of the last 30 years, led by one of the greatest bass players to ever walk the earth, go to this show.
Primus plays 7:30 pm Tuesday, June 12, at the Cuthbert Amphitheater; $39.50 adv., $45 door.