Published on March 24th, 2022


What were your thoughts the first time you heard Primus? Where did you first come across one of the strangest and most prolific bands of the alternative generation? Were they immortalizing Jerry, the winless race car driver? Bounding on about Wynona and her big feral pet, on an album referencing turds in a punchbowl? Dredging up the casualties of one Aloysius Devadander Abercrombie, angry patent leather shoe wearer, cognomen “Mud?”

Many discovered the strange charisma of Primus through “South Park” series, with its cracked theme song. Primus are a band with no limits. They don’t exist in genre terms. They transcend genre; they are Primus.

The story (which is true) goes that frontman and founder Les Claypool once tried out to play bass in Metallica. Thankfully it didn’t take, and there is only more gratitude for the absolute farcical strangeness that erupts from one’s skull trying to envision what …And Justice for All would sound like with noodle fingers playing bass.

Primus have collaborated — with members of Phish, Tool, Grateful Dead, Possessed and Rage Against the Machine — but largely on their own demented terms. Maybe there was some kind of magic in the air in Primus’s foundational years — the late ’80s tipping into the ’90s — and bands were freer to chase their own flights of fancy. They arrive in 2022 with an extensive, category-defying and exhausting discography, and the credence due a band that has toured with acts as varied as Rush, U2, Anthrax, Public Enemy and Fishbone.

Primus, speaking of Rush, are using their current tour to pay tribute to Rush’s “A Farewell to Kings,” playing that trio’s 1977 album in its entirety at every stop alongside Primus’s own ditties. In other hands, this grand gesture toward an artifact of medieval-themed nerd rock would invite skepticism. But this is Primus. They live in a creative, eccentric, stratospheric realm, looking down on the rest of us and deciding which weird gifts to bestow.

Primus perform “A Tribute to Kings” 8pm May 3 at the Fillmore Miami Beach. Battles open. ~ Tim Moffatt