Tower Theater October 22, 2014

Photography by Steven Philips, Story by Kathleen Orlando

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On Wednesday night, Primus kicked off their “Chocolate Factory” tour with a surprisingly punctual show at the Tower Theater in Upper Darby. The Chocolate Factory is the first album created with the original band members in 20 years, and, as the name suggests, is a Wonka-themed album reduxing the soundtrack of the 1971 film starring Gene Wilder. In addition to recreating the sounds of a well-loved and influential movie, Primus’ vinyl version offers a neat twist on the “golden ticket” theme: there exists somewhere out there five golden vinyls. Those who find the album get to visit the Wonka Factory Primus style, with free Primus tickets for life!
As someone who began the evening with only minimal knowledge of the band, I left the Tower Theater with eyes opened, having being immersed in what, to me, was the full Primus experience. They opened with some twangy jams, Les’ warbling bass and deep mumbling lyrics more reminiscent of his country band, Duo de Twang, than typical Primus. Combining those aspects with dim but intense lighting and Les’ Heisenberg-esque hat, my mind kept wandering the the Albuquerque desert scenes in “Breaking Bad”. The curtain drops to conclude this portion of the show…
…and, after an intermission, raises again in true theater style to a dramatic and drastically different scene. Primus and the Chocolate Factory is about to begin.SP2_5702
What next took place almost defies description. For most of the audience, myself included, the movie adaptation of Roald Dahl’s beloved book was childhood staple. Here it was, on full display, but with the anxious discordance of an comfortable yet exhilarating acid trip. Amidst giant lollipops and massive-headed, dancing Oompah Loompahs, Primus ran through their own version of the soundtrack, with edited movie clips providing the backdrop for their corresponding songs. Les was dressed as Wonka himself, attended by an appropriately dressed ensemble.

The curtain fell, but the show was not over. Primus followed their new album playthrough with some of their old work, maintaining the same awesome energy level while running through classics like “Too Many Puppies”, “Here Come the Bastards”, and “Fisticuffs”. The latter featured an especially fun back and forth battle of the solos between the bass and a marimba. The performance ended with rousing applause and a spirited chant of “Primus sucks!”.

You’ll like Primus if: you’d like to check out one of the top bass players of all time, you’re curious to hear why Les Claypool himself calls “psychedelic polka”, you’d like to see who influenced bands such as Korn, Deftones, Limp Bizkit, Incubus, and Muse.