The last time Primus came through Stage AE, for an indoor show in October, the band was a little stuck on "Green Naugahyde."
Having peeled itself off from the latest album, the band was free to roam a little more Tuesday night on its return trip outdoors.
Primus, which had its heyday in the early '90s, is the rare band hard enough and weird enough to be welcomed in the punk, metal or jam scene. The early part of the set would have played well in jam circles, as the first three songs were sprawled over a half-hour, starting with "Those Damned Blue-Collar Tweekers," a fitting anthem for the old steel town, and into "Moron TV," sporting bass-master and emcee Les Claypool's clever pun, "There's gotta be more on TV/than just Moron TV." (He croaks through a distorted mike, so only selected lyrical gems break through.)
With inflatable spacemen flanking the trio, it launched into psychedelic funk space jams with the bassist and noise-guitar ace Larry "Ler" LaLonde getting their licks in, while drummer Jay Lane drove the jerky beat. "American Life," an ode to the immigrant, was a sly funk-to-noisy wonder that sucked up a lot of time in the set. After three songs, I was thinking, "They only have an hour till 11!"
After "Over the Falls," which came with one of the guitarist's most Hendrix-edged solos, Primus got down to business and cut the song length almost in half, surging through the cartoonish rhythms of "Lee Van Cleef" and "Mr. Krinkle," with Mr. Claypool donning a pig mask and sawing at his electric standup bass like a demented slasher-flick villain.
The slap bass on Primus' "greatest hit," "Wynona's Big Brown Beaver," and "Pork Soda" faves "My Name is Mud" and "Bob" put the crowd into bounce mode -- less frenzied than the '94 bounce mode (see Woodstock videos on YouTube), but everyone's gotten a little older, and Primus is a little strange for younger tastes.
Late in the set, Mr. Claypool paused to express his admiration for the view of Mount Washington. "I find it very enjoyable, soothing even, that I can look up on that hill any time and it will tell me how to deal with colon health."
With the clock racing toward the 11 p.m. curfew, the trio sailed the seas of cheese with "Jerry Was a Racecar Driver" and, by request, reached back to "Frizzle Fry" for the floppy headbanger "Too Many Puppies." It put the nail into another staggering set that reconfirmed to the hardcore fans that Primus [word that starts with an "s" and rhymes with ducks].
During the set, Mr. Claypool took a moment to shout-out Gogol Bordello, which rocked the middle slot after the Dead Kenny G's. "Good thing to see my good friend Eugene [Hutz] spew his testosterone all over you -- that's Eastern European testosterone!"
If the Primus people weren't into Gogol Bordello before last night, they certainly seemed to be all in by the time the band's hour-plus set slammed to a finish. Put the wild gypsy punks in front of any crowd and they'll win friends, as it's like a Ukrainian wedding reception gone bonkers.
Eastern European folk, punk, metal, ska, there's barely a genre left untouched by the New York ensemble led by the roaring Mr. Hutz, who started at about a 9 on the energy scale and raged to 11 by the time was he finished.
Gogol -- employing the usual guitars, bass and drums, plus violin and accordion -- rocked through songs like "Ultimate," "Not a Crime" and "Tribal Connection" (a tribal take on Men at Work) before really rousing the crowd with the "hi-dee-hi-dee-ho's" on the "Trans-Continental Hustle," which may have reminded locals of Rusted Root on warp speed.
Gogol Bordello flexed its electric muscle with the hard-rock of "Break the Spell" and a Sabbath-like riff on "Jealous Sister," finishing with the rollicking "Start Wearing Purple," that found the sweaty, shouting Gogol leader shirtless and waving a wine bottle.