May 9, 2018 Primus & Mastodon Level Red Rocks Morrison, CO 5-6-18
When news hit the social media outlets alerting fans of a spring/summer tour collaboration between Primus and Mastodon, it was not hard to find approval amongst fans of both bands, but there were voices lingering wondering how such an unusual combination came about.
Mastodon, on one hand is a band that has never shied away from playing alongside some of music’s heaviest acts. Hell, Mastodon was one of the co-headliners for the late Mayhem Festival. Primus is… well if someone would like to actually develop a genre that truly defines their sound, that would be an achievement noteworthy of some award. Fine combing these artists’ differences does lead one to a conclusion, both bands do not 100% fit with the bands they tour with as that is how unique their sound truly is.
Unusual is one adjective that can be used when talking about a band like Primus. Since 1990’s mind-altering “Frizzle Fry,” one truth was clear, this was one band that had no interest in fitting in with “conventional artists” or sounds for that matter. This was a band that were forging their own path, and never failed to keep their fans in suspense. When formed in the late ’80s by one of music’s oddest front men, Les Claypool and Guitarist Todd Huth, out of San Francisco, California, Metal was essentially king. A little band called Metallica pretty much hailed from the area along with Exodus, driving home a movement that would be known as Thrash. At one point shortly after the passing of Metallica Bassist Cliff Burton, Les Claypool auditioned to fill the vacant spot. Claypool did not get the position but moved on with Huth forming a band that sounded nothing like any band from the area. Though the lineup has changed a bit through the years, their releases from 1991’s unforgettable release “Sailing the Sea of Cheese” to the groundbreaking “Pork Soda,” they proved to be a band you could only expect the unexpected from.
While Mastodon’s sound has always been rooted deeply in their sound, their style alone is one that fans tend to appreciate more in the underground. Formed back in 2000, just the fact that the very original line up of Troy Sanders (bass/vocals), Bill Kelliher (guitar), Brent Hinds (guitars/vocals), and Brann Dailor (drums) has stayed together for the last 18 years in itself makes the band unique. Their 2002 debut album, Remission, was a testament to how a lesser renowned approach to Metal was going to take over. With both Mastodon’s latest testament released in 2017, entitled Emperor of Sand, and Primus just releasing The Desaturating Seven about the same time, why not put two bands not afraid to push boundaries on the road together?
That picture painted, the spring/summer tour has peaked the curiosity of many as it plans to visit cities coast to coast across USA through July 7th. It all began on Sunday, May, 6, 2018 in Morrison, Colorado at the world famous Red Rocks Amphitheatre. The first of 43 shows, one look at the legions of fans that made up the sold out crowd for the opening night at Red Rocks, it was clear the bands made the right decision doing things their own way.
To kick off the night, a band fresh out of Nashville, Tennessee was a band called All Them Witches. Also baring a style all their own – mixing Blues, Rock, and a bit psychedelic – the 4-piece band are out on the road in support of their latest album, 2017’s Sleeping Through the War.
Hitting the stage in a flurry, they started off with track “Death of Coyote Woman,” from their 2014 album, Lightning at the Door. Their style, unique and entrancing, had the audience taking notice. Furthermore, the experimental sounds the band has been well known for were on full display with tracks such as “357” and “Swallowed by the Sea.” Opening bands often get stuck with the stigma that it is ok generally to miss their set. With All Them Witches, one would be wise to ignore that disclaimer and check out their set.
Moving forward relatively quickly, the proverbial dial was turned to “11” when Mastodon arrived on stage. Turn it to “11” is exactly what they did with one of their newest tracks from 2017’s Emperor of Sand called “Sultan’s Curse.” The crunching sound of their Sludge Metal influenced music coursed through the audience, getting every headbanger’s head in full motion. Changing pace, the band switched to an old favorite for their fans with “Divinations” and then going back even further with “Crystal Skull.”
Granted Mastodon is no stranger to playing big arenas, their sound seemed almost too much for a place like Red Rocks to hold at times, but that is a compliment. Performing a respective, complete 16 song set, as the band closed out with one of the best tracks off their newest album, “Steambreather,” they had the audience in a full frenzy singing every word. One had to wonder how much all the rock structures were chipped away through that intense set. However, outside of fans loving every minute of it, after almost 18 years, Mastodon still connect on a different level from most bands out there today.
With night set in and the lights on, last but certainly nowhere near least was the band that put the concept of weird together and gave it an actual new name, Primus. Wasting no time, Primus walked onto the set to the theme music from 1971’s classic film Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory, leading right into their classic “Too Many Puppies.” A grand beginning, the audience did not need much more of an introduction in order to go blistering mad singing along and bobbing their heads to the pulsating beat.
Still sticking with their older material, Primus carried the show further, snatching every bit of their audience’s attention with “Last Salmon Man,” “Groundhog’s Day,” and “Frizzle Fry.” One of the highlights of the night however came in with Primus offering their new album, The Desaturating Seven, in its entirety. Though only released recently in September of last year, fans knew every word, and seemed to be a virtual metronome to the beat. An impressive deduction is how well the new material still blends with the classics, and Primus proved yet again they are an ageless wonder of the odd.
If you are sick of the same old mixture of bands who nearly mimic each other, this is one tour you cannot miss. Never dull, the roller coaster of musical enjoyment comes with each new song the bands coursed. Granted there may have been some skeptics when the tour was initially announced, those skeptics were left behind when it opened at Red Rock Amphitheatre. Simply put, the combo of Primus, Mastodon, and All Them Witches is truly the music fan’s dream of creativity and unique approach, so get out and see it before it is too late.