Words and Photos by Alicia Armijo

For a blistering Friday night show in Austin, TX, Primus and Mastodon brought an undeniable intensity for an early act on their co-headlining summer tour.

Last Friday, May 11th, Austinites gathered for a terrifically intimate show at Austin’s most prominent open-air venue, Austin360 Amphitheater. Many of these fans may have caught these headliners at one or both of their packed shows at Austin City Limits Live at the Moody Theater in the past year. However, the exclusivity of this pavilion-only show made for a particularly unique experience for the most serious Mastodon and Primus fans.

Nashville rockers, All Them Witches, took the stage for a fiery opening performance before the main acts of the night. The band was welcomed by a fully lined partition of obvious Primus and Mastodon fans, who were decked out in their favorite metal-T’s and distinctive fanatic masks for the occasion–from devilish horns to horse head masks. With squinted eyes in the summer sun, the band humbly thanked their audience for joining them despite the summer heat for the show. This quartet smoothly paired jazzy bass riffs with soulful, yet raw vocals splendidly. With hearty applause from a dedicated audience and a stirring performance, All Them Witches set the stage nicely for the always glorious, Mastodon.

Without a doubt, Mastodon thrives on their ability to stimulate a crowd brilliantly. These heavy metal giants fully gripped their audience with an energetic, opening play of their Grammy-winning song for Best Metal Performance, “Sultan’s Curse,” from their seventh full-length album, Emperor of Sand. The award was certainly well-earned! As the sun went down on Circuit of the Americas, the guitar gods surely shined upon us here in Austin. The band played against a backdrop of entrancing kaleidoscopic, spinning visuals, which added a new feel to their set from previous ones. As they played innovative hit after hit, the band never let up in their intensity. The band smoothly played with few to no interludes between songs, yet still appeared to connect with their fervent fans in the crowd. This sunset performance was certainly one for the books. All hail Mastodon!

With two incredible acts priming the crowd before them, Primus lit up the venue with an enchanting, hit-packed final set of the night. Frontman and bassist, Les Claypool’s hypnotizing bass riffs and particularly eerie voice against the backdrop of luminous visuals was a spectacle that fans won’t soon forget. Fans could be heard screaming at the top of their lungs throughout the entire night, “Primus Sucks!” to express (ironically) their adoration and enthusiasm for this phenomenal band.

Primus played an incredible full set of classic hits complemented by new favorites from their newest LP, The Desaturating Seven. The band had a clear connection with fans in the crowd and explicitly made a point to acknowledge that. Before launching into their encore, Claypool noted that they “…never take requests, but we’ll take one right now from the crowd collectively chanting…” As fans screamed their lungs out to be heard, Claypool then divulged, “…I know exactly what you want.” The band then launched into a thunderous play of “My Name is Mud” from their 1993 album, Pork Soda. With this and their grand finale of “Jerry Was a Racecar Driver,” Primus left Austinites with a thirst for more of their groovy badassery. Even with two visits in the past year, Primus is certainly welcome to return anytime to us Austinites who keep things weird.

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