“Welcome to the rock show!” proclaimed Mastodon’s energetic bassist Troy Sanders a few songs into the band’s set last Friday night at Marymoor Park near Redmond.
The crowd roared in approval and a plethora of arms were raised with hands formed in metal-horns fashion. This was going to be a wild one.
JJUUJJUU had already properly warmed up the concert-goers with a feedback-laden and spacey set of tunes, and Mastodon punched it hard to kick off its middle slot to pave the way for the mighty, mind-bending Primus later in the evening.
“This is like the best summer of my life,” said JJUUJJUU vocalist/guitarist Phil Pirrone of the triple-threat tour as the band flowed into another of its atmospheric tunes, which often built slowly, softly into heaviness. As Pirrone’s auburn hair waved in the breeze, his vocals soared and the second guitarist twitched during solos and lifted his instrument during key spots.
As the crowd packed tight up front for Mastodon, a ringing bell filled the air — and then the band’s onslaught began. For the next 80 minutes, the band skillfully straddled the line between menacing and joyful with growling and melodious vocals galore and tunes that spanned copious genres — from super fast to heavy to right in between on the band’s journey to hit all moods and cylinders.
At one point, it was mesmerizing to watch Sanders stationed in the middle of the stage while leaning back almost Zen-like as guitarists Brent Hinds and Bill Kelliher powered away on each side and drummer Brann Dailor bombed away on his colorful kit. Members of the crowd unleashed passion as well: At the start of one song, a guy tilted his head toward the sky while mimicking the guitar intro and then punched the air as the song took off.
“Ember City” was the song that lifted things to its highest peak with 10-ton chugging guitars and endless harmonies to link the band and crowd together as one.
With circus music bouncing from the PA as the headliner’s set time neared, the chants of “Primus sucks!” spewed forth. It’s a joke between band and fans that has been part of Primus’ jarring and foot-stomping spunky and wacky career since day one.
In other words: Primus rocks, OK? What other band can get people skipping on their way to the beer garden, holding kids on their shoulders while the youngsters manically shake their hands to the funky beat, and pogoing like crazy as if its the last gig they’ll every attend? That would be elastic-like bassist/wise-cracking vocalist Les Claypool and his band of merry men, who stoked the crowd as the rain fell.
Off-kilter, scratchy and shredding guitar from Larry LaLonde, thumping bass that had Claypool doing finger calisthenics and a cavalcade of drum beats via Tim Alexander never fail to enthrall a Primus crowd, and that’s exactly what went down at Marymoor for 90 glorious minutes.
“You are one fiery group of individuals,” Claypool told the throng as Primus launched into the epic “Too Many Puppies.” People went nuts for that one.
A Primus gig covers many styles of music and that means the crowd has to be on board — even well-versed — in it all to fully appreciate the band’s talent. You’ll get some Flamenco guitar, some electric upright bass, jazz, prog and a few mellow yet still intense interludes before the band hammers away again.