Review: Primus and the Oddity Faire tour at the Orpheum

It's Sunday night, and the smell of marijuana is thick in the orchestra pit at the Orpheum. Fans in pig masks shout "Fuck you Les!", "Fuck you Larry!", and "Primus fucking sucks!". Les Claypool comes on stage, accompanied by his gentleman cohorts Larry Lalonde on guitars and Jay Lane on drums. He hits a flatulent note on his Carl Thompson bass, and the world explodes.

This is the last night of the Oddity Faire tour, headlined by Primus and incorporating, well, odd musical acts along the way. It's like the people who grew up listening to Primus formed their own bands, which is probably the case. The Boston show has Mucca Pazza, a 30-piece brass-punk marching band. (Imagine Fanfare Ciocărlia but playing American music.)

Primus opens with "Those Damned Blue-Collar Tweekers" and in short order start playing the popular hits that have earned them both money and hugs. "Pudding Time," "Southbound Pachyderm," "Elevens," "My Name is Mud," it's all there. (Plus two songs from the Brown Album, but whatevz to that). They sneak in covers of The Police's "Behind my Camel," which has become a Primus standard over the years, and Tom Waits' "Big in Japan." The show ends with "Harold of the Rocks", with "Here Come the Bastards" and "Tommy the Cat" for an encore.

Les Claypool spent most of the 2000s touring with his various side projects-Colonel Claypool's Bucket of Bernie Brains, the Fancy Band, Flying Frog Brigade, and Oysterhead. When Primus started touring again, the open-ended jam band ethos became a big part of their performances. The Boston show has its share of whamola jams and instrumental solos, but they are short and tight. The jams are focused and groovy, not ambient explorations. Jay Lane's drum solo steals the show. Which is not that surprising, because Claypool lets the audience in on a little secret-Jay Lane moonlights as Buckethead. (These are the jokes, folks.)

Primus's setlist is necessarily shorter than usual to make room for other Oddity Faire artists. Considerate of them, but what the world needs is more Primus, not less, especially since they are at the absolute top of their game.

It's commonly conjectured that the Rolling Stones withheld from releasing Rock and Roll Circus because The Who, fresh off a tour, upstaged them. Footage of The Who from that concert, playing "A Quick One While He's Away," is a great example of a supremely talented band doing what they do better than anyone else. Primus, on the last show of the Oddity Faire, are the same way. On this night, they're the best fucking band in the world.

Arafat Kazi is a Bangladeshi drummer who's kind of an obnoxious guy. You can read his blog at

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