music / Columns

Jam Central Station: Primus w/Special Guest Clutch – Pittsburgh, PA – 7.30.17

August 5, 2017 | Posted by Jeff Modzelewski



Pairing Clutch and Primus for a tour is a decision that makes sense on many different levels. While the two bands may have different aesthetics, they are in many ways cut from the same cloth. Clutch is the smart, witty, conspiracy-theorist that can tell stories relating ancient Greek gods to modern society while Primus is the weird performance artist dressed in impeccable steampunk/thrift style that is just as comfortable either sipping wine or dropping acid. While they may seem to be on very different paths, both bands come from a hard rock background but decided very early on not to stay too invested in any one path. Clutch has moved through punk, hardcore, jam, and blues phases, all while staying true to themselves. Primus has created a sound so unique and diverse that it can really only be described as “Primus,” but they also carry that hard-rock undertone and are just as comfortable at Rock on the Range as they are at Summer Camp. Where Clutch diversified, Primus went with weird, and it’s worked for both bands. Clutch has been one of my favorite bands to see live over the past decade, and Primus is always a great show, so having the opportunity to see both bands at the same show was something I wasn’t going to miss.

Clutch opened the night with a 75 minute set. They pulled from all eras of their catalog, moving from songs from the mid-90’s into brand new unreleased tracks. They opened with “Promoter,” a tune that accentuates the groove that they bring to hard rock. The crowd was immediately into it, jamming along and even getting the beginings of a pit started near the front of the stage. They moved through a pair of newer tunes with “Earth Rocker” and “The Face,” again keeping the focus on the heavy groove that gave frontman Neil Fallon opportunities to work the crowd. They slowed things down with the classic “Big News I” and teased going straight into “Big News II” before instead moving into “50,000 Unstoppable Watts.”

The set really kicked up a notch when the band announced that they were going to start recording a new album in the near future and would be playing some new tunes throughout the set. “How To Shake Hands” was the first of the new songs, and probably my favorite of the bunch. Clever lyrics mixed with an effects-laden guitar sound and a tight rhythm section is a hallmark of Clutch, and this song featured Neil at his best. When he started talking about being the President of the United States you could see him being able to pull it off. From there he picked up his guitar for the first time that night and went into “The Regulator,” and then “Firebirds!” The band continued to move from their more straightforward hard rock style back into bluesy riffs, reaching back for “Immortal” and then going into another new song, the tentatively (but aptly) named “Bubonic Blues.”

The band kept a slower tempo for much of the latter part of the set, starting with “Our Lady Of Electric Light,” into another new song “We Love A Good Fire.” They went back to the blues for “Decapitation Blues” then played their fourth and final new tune of the evening, “Vision Quest.” If the four new tracks the band played throughout this set are an indication, the new album will be as solid as their past 2 releases. They closed out the evening with “Electric Worry” before teasing “One Eyed Dollar” and instead closing the set with the energetic “X-Ray Visions” and once more announcing to the crowd that Primus was up next.

Primus, despite playing the longer set of the two bands, ended up playing fewer songs than Clutch. That’s not surprising given how Primus has embraced a looser, jammier nature to their shows over the years. They opened with the classic “Those Damned Blue-Collar Tweakers” that gave guitarist Larry LaLonde plenty of space to extend the song. Claypool gets mountains of praise heaped onto him, and rightly so, but without LaLonde’s guitar work Primus simply wouldn’t be Primus. He rarely leads songs and doesn’t typically play traditional riffs. Instead he’s charged with filling in the songs with sound that is often atemporal and not necessarily melodic, but that fits with what Les is doing and fills in behind the power of the bass. He showed off that skill throughout the night. An early set highlight was the band ending the second song, “Too Many Puppies,” before the final verse, transitioning directly into “Sgt. Baker,” and moving back into “Too Many Puppies.” Not everyone pays attention to Claypool’s lyrics, but the anti-war message of “Too Many Puppies” coupled with “Sgt. Baker” was very poignant given the state of the country (something Les touched on throughout the show), and seemed very much like a statement from the group.

Like Clutch, Primus pulled from all eras of their catalog. They mixed in early songs like “Frizzle Fry” between two tracks from their most recent original album. They did a solid job on “Over the Falls” from the underappreciated Brown Album. Claypool even left the stage for a moment, returning with a pig mask and an upright bass for “The Candy Man” from Primus’s revision of the music from Willy Wonka and “Mr. Krinkle.” LaLonde and drummer Tim Alexander held down jams while Claypool made his way on and off stage for the changes. After returning with his bass for “On The Tweek Again” the band segued “Welcome To This World” into “Mrs. Blaileen,” an unexpected duo and a nice treat to hear “Mrs. Blaileen.” The band ended their main set with another pair of well-known tunes in “My Name Is Mud” and “Jerry Was A Race Car Driver.” They came back for a full 3 song encore, starting with “Mr. Knowitall,” a song that they’ve been playing since their earliest days. Their biggest radio hit, “Wynonna’s Big Brown Beaver” followed, in relatively standard form. They closed, as they often do, with “Southbound Pachyderm,” and they took time to really stretch the song into some heavier areas than it normally goes.

I came into the show with high expectations and I have to say that they were more than met by the two bands. Clutch and Primus continue to be two of my favorite acts to see live, and with good reason. Both Neil Fallon and Les Claypool own the stage and command the crowd, although each in their own unique ways. Both bands start with a hard-rock vibe but take it into unique directions. Both bands have a significant following, although both only have a small handful of “hits” and neither band relies heavily on those songs. It’s not surprising that this is a short run, since both bands can play venues of the size of Stage AE on their own, and each band played a shorter than normal set, leaving the crowd wanting more. I’m looking forward to seeing both bands again soon.



Gem and Jam Announces Lineup
The Gem and Jam Festival will take place in Tuscon, Arizona from January 25-28. The four night festival will include STS9, Greensky Bluegrass, Lettuce, Railroad Earth, Emmancipator, Breaking Biscuits, Thriftworks, and a solid and diverse undercard.

Greensky Bluegrass announce dates
Greensky Bluegrass will be maintaining their constant road presence at least through October. The band announced a run of shows that takes them to their festival performances just before Halloween.

September 8 Crystal Bay, NV—Crystal Bay Club Casino
September 9 San Francisco, CA—The Warfield
September 13 Phoenix, AZ—Van Buren
September 14 San Diego, CA—Observatory North Park
September 15 Henderson, NV—Henderson Pavilion
September 16 Anaheim, CA—House of Blues
September 19 Flagstaff, AZ—Orpheum Theatre
September 20 Taos, NM—Taos Mesa Brewing Mothership
September 22 Boulder, CO—Boulder Theater
September 23 Morrison, CO—Red Rocks Amphitheatre
October 13 Omaha, NE—Slowdown
October 14 Eureka Springs, AR—Hillberry
October 15 Kansas City, MO—Uptown Theatre
October 18 Louisville, KY—Mercury Ballroom
October 19 Asheville, NC—Salvage Station
October 20 Birmingham, AL—Avondale Brewing
October 21 Atlanta, GA—Tabernacle
October 25 Winston-Salem, NC—Millenium Center
October 26-27 Live Oak, FL—Suwanee Hulaween
October 28-29 Placerville, CA—Hangtown Music Festival
December 8-11 Qroo, MEX—Strings & Sol

Tauk add dates
TAUK will be staying on the road at least through their appearance at Hulaween in late October. The band announced a string of dates that will fill up their September and October calendar.

July 28-29 Floyd, VA—FloydFest
August 3 Ozark, AR—Homegrown on the River
August 4 Bellevue, NE—Hullabaloo Music Festival
August 11 Darrington, WA—Summer Meltdown Festival
August 25 Arrington, VA—LOCKN’
August 26 Greenville, SC—Shoeless Jam Music & Arts Festival
September 15 Burlington, VT—ArtsRiot+
September 16 Syracuse, NY—The Westcott Theater+
September 20 Morgantown, WV—Mainstage Morgantown*
September 21 Kalamazoo, MI—Bell’s Eccentric Cafe*
September 22-23 Thornville, OH—Resonanace Music & Arts Festival
September 24 Milwaukee, WI—The Miramar Theatre*
September 26 Des Moines, IA—Wooly’s*
September 29 Kansas City, MO—The Riot Room*
September 30 Boulder, CO—Fox Theatre~
October 1Durango, CO—Animas City Theatre~
October 4 Boise, ID—Neurolux^
October 5 Missoula, MT—Top Hat Lounge^
October 6 Seattle, WA—Nectar Lounge^
October 7 Portland, OR—Star Theater
October 8 Eugene, OR—Hi-Fi Music Hall#
October 11 Chico, CA—Lost On Main
October 12 Sacramento, CA—Harlow’s
October 13 Petaluma, CA—Mystic Theatre
October 14 Los Angeles, CA—Teragram Ballroom
October 15 Phoenix, AZ—Last Exit Live
October 18 San Antonio, TX—Sam’s Burger Joint&
October 19 Dallas, TX—Trees&
October 20 Austin, TX—Antone’s&
October 21 Houston, TX—Last Concert Café
October 25 New Orleans, LA—Republic NOLA
October 26 Auburn, AL—Bourbon Street Bar
October 27-28 Asheville, NC—New Mountain Theatre (28th=)
October 29 Live Oak, FL—Suwannee Hulaween
November 3 Baltimore, MD—Baltimore Soundstage
November 4 Ardmore, PA—Ardmore, PA
November 24 New York, NY—The Bowery Ballroom
December 1-5 Playas-Punta Cana,DR—Dominican Holidaze

Twiddle announce dates
Twiddle, possibly the fastest rising band in the jam circuit, announced a run of dates. These shows include The Hip Abduction opening many dates and take the band through their Halloween show in Salt Lake City.

August 31 Fairfield, CT – The Warehouse FTC
September 1 Fairfield, CT – The Warehouse FTC
September 2 Fairfield, CT – The Warehouse FTC
September 21 Rochester, NY – Anthology*
September 24 Asbury Park, NJ – Stone Pony*
September 26 Virginia Beach, VA – Shaka’s*
September 27 Greensboro, NC – The Blind Tiger*
September 28 Richmond, VA – The National*
September 29 Morgantown, WV – Mainstage
September 30 Pittsburgh, PA – Rex Theater
October 12 Covington, KY – Octave
October 13 Nashville, TN – Mercy Lounge
October 14 St. Louis, MO – The Old Rock House
October 19 Seattle, WA – Nectar Lounge#
October 20 Portland, OR – Star Theater#
October 21 Eugene, OR – HiFi Music Lounge#
October 22 Arcata, CA – Humboldt Brews#
October 25 Sacramento, CA – Harlow’s#
October 26 Santa Cruz, CA – The Catalyst#
October 27 San Francisco, CA – The Independent#
October 28 Los Angeles, CA – Teragram Ballroom#
October 31 Salt Lake City, UT – The State Room#
*w/ The Hip Abduction #w/ Gene Evaro Jr.


Grand Targhee Bluegrass Festival
August 11-13
Alta, WY
The Infamous Stringdusters, Sam Bush Band, Railroad Earth, Greensky Bluegrass, Del McCoury Band, The Travelin’ McCoury’s

August 18-20
Wellston, MI
Greensky Bluegrass, Sam Bush Band, Charles Bradley & His Extraordinaires, Fruition, Joshua Davis, Larry Keel Experience, Billy Strings, The Accidentals, The Crane Wives

August 24-27
Arrington, VA
The Avett Brothers, Phil Lesh & Friends, Gov’t Mule, Widespread Panic, John Fogerty, The String Cheese Incident, Umphrey’s McGee, moe, Greensky Bluegrass, John Butler Trio, Joe Russo’s Almost Dead, TAUK

Grand Point North
September 16-17
Waterfront Park
Burlington, VT
Trey Anastasio Band, Grace Potter, Dawes, Joseph, Son Little, Hurray for the Riff Raff

The Festy Experience
October 5-8
Infinity Downs
Arrington, VA
The Infamous Stringdusters, Ani DiFranco, Drive By Truckers, Elephant Revival, Sam Bush Band, The Travelin’ McCoury’s, Jerry Douglas, Cabinet, Billy Strings, Beats Antique

Hillberry Music Festival
October 12-15
Eureka Springs, AR
Railroad Earth, Greensky Bluegrass, Leftover Salmon, Keller Williams’ Grateful Grass, Dumpstaphunk, Dirtfoot

Suwannee Roots Revival
October 12-15
Spirit of the Suwannee Music Park
Live Oak, FL
Bela Fleck & Abigail Washburn, The Wood Brothers, Peter Rowan Dharma Blues featuring Jack Cassidy, Donna the Buffalo, Steep Canyon Rangers

Hangtown Music Festival
October 26-29
Placerville, CA
Railroad Earth, Greensky Bluegrass, Dark Star Orchestra, Leftover Salmon, Turkuaz

Suwannee Hulaween
October 27-29
Spirit of the Suwannee Music Park
Live Oak, FL
The String Cheese Incident, Ween, Bassnectar, The Disco Biscuits, Portugal The Man, Lettuce, Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats, Benevento/Russo Duo, Greensky Bluegrass, Kamasi Washington, TAUK, Dumpstafunk, Spafford

Dominican Holidaze
December 1-5
Punta Cana, Dominican Republic
Umphrey’s McGee, STS9, The Disco Biscuits, GRiZ, Joe Russo’s Almost Dead, TAUK, The Motet, Lotus, Spafford

Strings & Sol
December 8-12
Now Sapphire
Puerto Morelos, MX
Yonder Mountain String Band, Greensky Bluegrass, Railroad Earth, Leftover Salmon, Infamous Stringdusters, Fruition

Dave Matthews & Tim Reynolds in Mexico
January 12-14
Riviera Maya, MX

Gov’t Mule’s Island Exodus
January 13-17
Jewel Paradise Cove
Runaway Bay, Jamaica
Gov’t Mule, Warren Haynes, JJ Grey & Mofro

Jam in the Sand
January 18-22
Jewel Paradise Cove
Ruanaway Bay, Jamaica
Dark Star Orchestra, Hot Tuna, Rumpke Mountain Boys

Jam Cruise
January 17-22
Medeski, Martin, Scofield & Wood, Galactic, Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe, Maceo Parker, Lotus, Lettuce, Gramatik, Keller Williams, The New Mastersounds, Dumpstaphunk, Turkuaz, The Main Squeeze

Gem & Jam
January 25-28
Tuscon, AZ
STS9, Greensky Bluegrass, Lettuce, Breaking Biscuits, Emancipator, Railroad Earth

Panic En La Playa
January 26-30
Riviera Maya, Mexico

June 7-10
Manchester, TN


Thanks again for stopping by. I’ll be back next week with more jam. Until then, check me out on Facebook and Twitter for up to the minute concert announcements. Until next week, Jam On!