Pity the ticket holders who were shut out of the Primus and Clutch concert on Saturday. Stormy weather forced a move from the outdoor venue Crossroads KC to the Uptown Theater, a venerable room with a smaller capacity. About 500 people who had purchased tickets to the sold-out concert at Crossroads KC, consequently, were denied entry. They missed a memorable show by the absurdist rock bands.
Both acts on the inspired double bill pair humor with heaviness. Clutch opened the show with 75 minutes of testosterone-fueled blues, boogie and metal that sounded as if it was first released on 8-track tapes in the early ’70s. The quartet’s throwback sound is coupled with over-the-top lyrics.
Front man Neil Fallon roared about “telekinetic prophetic dynamite” during “X-Ray Visions,” a riff-heavy song from the most recent of the 11 studio albums the Maryland band has released since 1993. On “How to Shake Hands,” a new composition about a presidential campaign, Fallon promised that “I’m gonna kiss all the babies, maybe their mamas too.”
Although its members were dressed in street clothes and were accompanied by minimal production, Clutch was riveting as it tore through the psychedelic “Spacegrass,” the ornery blues “Son of Virginia” and the celebratory sleaze of “Promoter (of Earthbound Causes).”
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Both bands benefited from pristine sound, but superior lighting effects and video screens allowed Primus to achieve improbable feats during its 90-minute outing. A zany video and a pig mask donned by bandleader Les Claypool as he bowed a standup bass with swashbuckling vigor helped convince more than 2,000 people to embrace avant-garde dissonance during a reading of “Mr Krinkle.”
The trio tested the limits of repetition during “Here Come the Bastards” and explored atonality as it performed “The Seven,” a challenging track from its forthcoming album “The Desaturating Seven.” “Those Damned Blue-Collar Tweekers” served as a showcase for Claypool’s inventive bass work. Guitarist Larry LaLonde used “American Life” to evoke the work of the jazz fusion pioneer Allan Holdsworth.
The militant stomp of “Too Many Puppies” initiated mayhem among the tightly packed fans on the floor, a potentially dangerous situation that Fallon attempted to moderate during Clutch’s set. Suggesting that “I don’t like to play rock and roll referee,” Fallon nonetheless implored energetic people to behave responsibly so that everyone could “go home with memories and not bruises.” Unfortunately, he provided no guidance on how to exit the venue without receiving a thorough soaking from the torrential rain.