After days of smokey skies and hot temps in the Portland area, Saturday, August 12 turned into a perfect 80-degree day, adding to the elated attitude and atmosphere of those in attendance for Primus and Clutch at Edgefield.
When Clutch took the stage, the audience was already firmly packed into the prime viewing areas. It feels too cliché to say Clutch has a “cult-like following.” Even though the argument is definitely there, it feels more like how people love a sports team. The band has been around long enough for people to have grown up listening to them, so going to a Clutch show can be equated to a day at the ballpark—just way cooler in my opinion. I have not seen an audience wear the merch of a performing band more, again, much like you'd wear to show support at a sporting event.
Once Clutch started playing, singer Neil Fallon got plenty of help from the audience with his vocals as people belted out their favorite lines from songs spanning decades of releases. The staying power of Clutch can be easily seen in their live performances and unwavering catalog. Each song sounds like its truly theirs, not recycled or just some formula they stumbled upon. You can always tell when musicians love what they are playing and that directly translates to the crowd.
People watching at Edgefield is always fun, but it's a hundred times more amazing when Primus are in town. With the sun finally setting, the trio emerged and immediately dug in. The steady thump of "Those Damned Blue-Collar Tweekers" signaled to the crowd to fill in the last remaining square footage of the lawn seating at this sold-out show.
The bass guitar is not the most common low register in their music like it is in most every other musical situation. Les Claypool’s extremely articulate playing requires a very punchy tone setup, which would be lost with the conventional thick and muddy nature of bass guitars. The drums add the needed sharp quips of low end when necessary, and the guitars get laid out and pulled across this Richter scale readout of percussive arrangements—sometimes like heavy curtains and at other times like a thin fog over a coastal town.
The ease and authority with which the set list was executed was an amazing sight in its own right, but, of course, there were well-placed visuals displayed behind the band as well. Ranging from Salad Fingers to swirling colors to a perfectly synched "Mr. Krinkle" video, there are really no bands like Primus. This band's success over the years has been a true testament to a time when the art was more important than the pay, and thankfully they've been afforded the opportunity and position to just let things develop and flourish.
Continuing to do so, Primus will release their ninth studio album The Desaturating Seven on September 29, and follow that with more tour dates. One of the great musical experiences you can witness live, please do so if at all possible. —Guy Nelson