Written by Samuel Barker
ImageReviewing a Primus show for me is always an interesting experience for me. It was a teenage version of me that woke up in the middle of the night to a Primus video playing on the television and ultimately decided that I had to play music because what I saw was amazing to me.

Now that the full disclosure is out of the way, let us get to the show.

Primus is currently on tour supporting their latest project, an album called Primus and the Chocolate Factory. The project features the original three members of Primus with bassist/vocalist Les Claypool’s solo backing back, The Fungi Ensemble, doing a set of songs from the classic film, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.

Of course, the songs are not as you remember from the film. Claypool and company added their own special twist to the songs, but we will cover that later, because before they went into this album, they opened with a set of audience favorites.

Standing on stage in single upward shining spotlight, guitarist Larry Lalonde hit the wah-laden opening chord of Those Damn Blue Collar Tweakers. When drummer Tim “Herb” Alexander and Claypool kicked in together to back LaLonde, the set went into full speed and never looked back.

The first set rolled along with Moron TV and Drowning Man before settling into another old classic, Frizzle Fry. The audience bounced around, sang along and had a blast hearing this tune from way back. I dragged my teenage son, who recently picked up a Primus appreciation along, and he was ecstatic to hear this favorite being played.

My Name is Mud was the highlight of the first set as LaLonde’s guitar cut through while Claypool and Alexander locked in on the rhythm. The audience bounced along, folks screamed along and Claypool added extra emphasis to the breaks in the song. As the song winded down, Claypool and Alexander had a stand-off on the riff for a few minutes as LaLonde took a break from guitar playing to watch the two close the song out in dramatic fashion.

ImageAfter a closed-curtain break, the opening song, Hello Wonkites, began as the curtains opened slowly to reveal the Wonka Candy Factory created right there on the stage. Claypool wore a Willy Wonka suit with a creepy long nosed mask.

My favorite part of the set was the addition of the Fungi Ensemble. The xylophone, keyboards and cello added a whole new dynamic, plus kept some of the whimsical nature of the songs that had been lost in the creepy factor from the main Primus members.

Pure Imagination was the song that stuck in my head all night and into the next day.  The roll of resonator bass, LaLonde’s sharp leads and Claypool’s carnival barker vocals brought it all together perfectly.

The mix of clips from the movie, dancing Oompa Loompas with huge heads patrolling the stage and the overall theme of the set took me from skeptical to having a fun evening watching the band perform music they obviously loved.

When the tour rolls through your town or if Primus brings it back to Houston, I must say it would be a fun night out. I would not recommend bring the small kids though, the creepier vibe might be too much for junior…but it will be just fine for mom and dad looking for a reimagining of a wonderful childhood memory.