By Jon Kruse
Photos by Jay Douglass
June 19, 2018

Mastodon performs at Pinnacle Bank Arena in Lincoln, Neb., on June 18, 2018. Jay Douglass/KZUM.

Due to the potential of poor weather, the Primus/Mastodon Concert, originally to be held at Pinewood Bowl, was moved to the Pinnacle Bank Arena with doors opening at 6 p.m.

Up first was a sludgy band from Los Angeles called JjuuJjuu. I knew very little about this band other than what I could pull up via their Facebook page, but live, they were rather mediocre. Initially, I thought it was Mastodon, because no one in the band announced their name; it was only after the vocalist mentioned that Mastodon and Primus were coming up next that I realized this was the band JiuuJiuu. Additionally they had very little stage presence; only playing their instruments in their own piece of the stage and not shifting much from it. Musically, the band was tight, but rather lackluster in substance. The frontman also played guitar and spent most of his time (even during the performance) messing with his pedal board. It’s safe to say, I personally won’t be looking into this band any further based upon their performance.

JiuuJiuu departed the stage as crew got busy tearing down and prepping equipment for the next band, Mastodon. Mastodon is a progressive/sludge act from Georgia. This band I had heard of and I own a majority of their discography, but I’ve never been a huge fan and I hoped that seeing them live would change my mind – It didn’t.

On a positive note, the band is extremely tight. Having three different members share the vocal duties, in some cases singing harmonies, which they hit perfectly (to an untrained ear, that is,) including the drummer also taking some vocal duties.  He was the stand-out of the evening, playing very proficiently, lots of fills and just overall impressive style and execution. The music is not terrible and it was obvious from reactions of some of those around me that they truly enjoyed the show, but for me the music was just a tad repetitive and “boring” at times. With a 17-song set, that can make time go in slow-motion. If you are a diehard fan of the band or their style, you would not have been disappointed with the show. If you lack interest in hearing a hard rock-version of Yes, you would be bored just as I was.

Finally, after Mastodon’s set, the road crew, again, came on and did their tear-down-set up-thing and within 15-20 minutes, Primus hit the stage.

Now this band I know extremely well! The band formed out to the ashes of some influential underground metal bands: Larry Lalonde, being the guitarist in the death/thrash band Possessed (considered one of the pioneers of death metal) and Les Claypool. Both Claypool and Lalonde played together in the progressive-thrash outfit, Blind Illusion. Through the early to mid-’90s, Primus had their fair share of “hits” thanks to Headbangers Ball and even Beavis & Butthead, ultimately becoming the voice of the intro to South Park.  

The thing about Primus is they are truly different and I don’t know that one can put a label on what they do – it’s unique!  Claypool, in my opinion, is one of the best bassists of all time (he even tried out for Metallica when Cliff Burton died, but rumor has it he was too good to play in the band) and did he show it tonight!

The first five songs were some classics from the early years, including “Too Many Puppies,” (from “Frizzle Fry,” their debut album) “Sgt. Baker” as well as “American Life” (from their follow up effort, “Sailing The Seas Of Cheese”). Then they went into the entirety of the new album, “The Desaturating Seven.”  A little background here – after finding out I was attending the show, I looked up their set-lists on the tour so far and saw they played the whole album, so I decided to listen to it as I hadn’t given it a thorough spin yet. Quite honestly, I didn’t like it. I was disappointed and thought that most of the show was going to be boring – boy, was I wrong!  As they began to drudge on through the whole album, we were able to witness just how good and how tight the band is. Claypool showed his bass skills as did Lalonde. Herb, the drummer, was also incredible. With the light show, tightness and accuracy of the playing and just the overall passion that they played with, it made me want to revisit the new album again (which I did on the way home from the show) and it was incredible!

But once they finished playing the album in full, they jumped right back into more of the older hits, including “Welcome To This World”/”My Name Is Mud”/”Jerry Was A Race Car Driver” medley. The show concluded with playing “Wyonna’s Big Brown Beaver” as an encore.

Perhaps the best thing about the Primus performance was seeing the crowd. Everybody was moving to the beat, whether they knew the songs or not, they were that good!  All in all, it was a good show because of how well Primus performed. But it seems like the line up was a bit strange; the bands didn’t really complement one another. Even though Mastodon was considered a co-headliner, they truly only ended up being the warm up act to get the crowd ready for Primus.  I would’ve gone home feeling the same way if I had showed up late and only caught Primus.

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Jon Kruse is host of Metal Manifesto on KZUM. Metal Manifesto airs Thursday night from Midnight until 2 a.m.

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