It is always in retrospect and recovery that the events of Jazzfest achieve their full magnitude. Four days of perfect weather made for one of the most enjoyable second festival weekends in recent memory. When the days in the field are temperate, it makes the night shows that much easier to attend. Often, our evenings have been undone by baking in the heat followed by some food and a warm shower. This year there were some truly spectacular late night performances to be seen. On Saturday night, I had the good luck to roll through three shows before the festival gates opened on Sunday morning, but the best by far was Primus. I started the evening after the Elton John tarp lock with the second night of the Primus and the Chocolate Factory shows at The Civic. This was arguably one of the best stage shows I have ever seen. While I have often enjoyed Primus’ music, I would not call myself a proactive fan. Since their establishment in the 80s, Primus has defiantly avoided any permanent labels. Call it what you will, their music is dark, intelligent and playful and Saturday’s show did not deviate from this reputation. The band’s usual theatricality was heightened by the full delivery of their new record Primus and the Chocolate Factory with the Fungi Ensemble. Les, Larry and Tim came out just a few minutes after the advertised 10 p.m. start time and played an hour long opening set of Primus classics and deep cuts. For their part, the band was pushed toward the front of the stage with a rear curtain hiding the majesty of their set for the Chocolate Factory performance. There was an air of anticipation throughout the venue. The man standing next to me at the stage had been there the night before as well. When I told him I had not yet seen the stage, he replied “I won’t ruin it for you.” His instincts were correct. When the band came back from a short break, the curtain rose on a surreal landscape of the sweet tweaked toward the sinister (much in the spirit of both the band and the original 1971 film). It was immediately overwhelming. Les, Larry and Tim had all transformed themselves into characters from Dhal’s novel and the stage was a wonderland of oversized candy. The band was joined on stage by percussionist Mike Dillon and cellist Sam Bass (The Fungi Ensemble) both wearing donning tuxedos and masks which amplified the intense weirdness in the air. If you have not heard this record, it works surprisingly well even without the stage show. The band was able to rearrange the entire soundtrack of Mel Stuart’s 1971 film into a psychedelic masterpiece that heavily features Les Claypool’s virtuoso bass playing. The performance featured a glitched version of the movie playing behind the band along with multiple surprises (such as dancers in giant paper mache oompa loompa heads). After the first couple of numbers, Les disappeared and returned as Wonka himself in time to sing “Pure Imagination”. From there we were off on Charlie’s journey. Once the band finished the album, they came back for a third set of hits to close out the night. All told we were led on a three hour journey by one of the tightest touring ensembles on the road today. If you get a chance to see this show don’t miss out.
Later that night I wandered down to Blue Nile, for Marco Benevento’s late night set. Marco took the stage just after 3 a.m. and delivered a fantastic set of his unique brand of jazz/rock fusion. I was in a great position to watch him meticulously build the bank of effects pedals and loopers that he uses to generate his sound. It’s one thing to hear this level of sonic complexity on a record, it’s quite another to watch an ensemble build it live. Keep an eye on the listings, he should be back through town soon.
To Do This Week
Tomorrow night indie folksters Lord Huron will be at the Civic. On Saturday, supergroup The Relationship will be playing their pop punk at Siberia. The band features Brian Bell of Weezer, Nate Shaw of US Bombs, Albert Hammond Jr’s songwriting partner Jon LaRue and Anthony Burulcich, drummer for Morrissey and the Bravery. Also that night, Mr. Indie himself, Sufjan Stevens will be playing at the Saenger Theatre. On Sunday noise rockers …And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead are playing at Gasa Gasa. Finally on Wednesday check out Speedy Ortiz also at Gasa Gasa. Their new record Foil Deer is rapidly climbing my list of the year’s best albums.
To Listen This Week
Check out the new The Relationship track via Billboard.
Du Blonde has a new track via CoS
The Chemical Brothers have shared a new track and video via VEVO