Primus @ Southern Alberta Jubilee Auditorium © J. Dirom
© J. Dirom

Primus @ Southern Alberta Jubilee Auditorium – September 11th 2015

It started as a low-light affair, with Les Claypool and the band playing in the shadows, which created a great ambiance for songs such as Jilly’s On Smack, which saw Claypool return to the stage donning a pig’s mask. At times what light there was flashed out into the crowd in conjunction with the music.

On this particular tour, Primus essentially opens for Primus and the Chocolate Factory with the Fungi Ensemble, an ideal situation for any fan. The Chocolate Factory was hidden behind the stage curtains as “original” Primus (Set 1) took the stage. The band ran through classic songs that many of us love them for, including Wynona’s Big Brown Beaver, My Name is Mudd, and wrapping up the first set with Jerry was a Race Car Driver.

After a short intermission, it was time for Primus and the Chocolate Factory with the Fungi Ensemble. Les Claypool, in the second set takes, on the role of Willy Wonka, on a set that includes a giant mushroom, gumdrops, lollipops, candy, and a large video screen.

The giant screen looped clips of the classic 1971 musical fantasy film starring Gene Wilder, which at times added an eerie feeling to Primus’s interpretation of the classic. Starting with Hello Wonkites Primus essentially runs through their entire album which is a twisted re-imagination of the film “dedicated to the wondrous talent of Gene Wilder.”

In his first incarnation of Willy Wonka, Claypool dons a mask that is notably identifiable with Cyrano de Bergerac. Playing a standup bass. As the set progresses, Claypool takes on a more “Wilder” Wonka Look as he returns to stage playing an acoustic bass. As the set progresses, the Oompa Loopas make one of their many appearances. The Oopma Loompa’s rough paper mache heads, simply ad to the creepiness and feel of Primus’s twisted Wonka fantasy.

It should be noted that Les is a sight to behold playing bass, and that he makes complex bass lines seem simply effortless.

Primus and the Chocolate Factory with the Fungi Ensemble is a fun and creepy trip back into the twisted world of Wonka. The fact that you get “Classic” Primus and the Wonkafied version makes this an absolutely fantastic concert to behold.

If you get the chance, get out and take in a truly fabulous show, and in addition if you are a vinyl junkie it is a good opportunity to pick up a vinyl copy of the album, which features a chocolate disk, unless you are lucky enough to pull one of the five ‘Golden Albums’ in which you will get free Primus tickets for life.

Set 2: “Hello Wonkotes”, Candy Man”, “Cheer Up Charlie”, “Golden Ticket”, “Lermaninoff”, “Pure Imagination”, “Compa Augustus”, “Semi-Wonderous Boat Ride”, “Oompa Violet”, “I Want It Now”, “Oompa Veruca”, “Wonkmobile”, “Oompa TV”, and closes with “Farewell Wonkites.”

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