Tag Archives: philly

EOTO at The Blockley Pourhouse, 10/15/2011

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You might think that Jason Hann and Michael Travis from String Cheese Incident are used to packed venues and scalped tickets, but with their small side project EOTO, they’re right back to humble beginnings at the local venue. Even after the performance at Electric Forest you would think that their show would be beyond sold out, but bands don’t typically blow up like that, and though they may have experienced fame with SCI, EOTO is no exception.

EOTO, forgive the quality, taken with a droid.

On Saturday night, after Philly favorites DAMN RIGHT! opened the show, the Blockley Pourhouse was slowly filling up with ravers and Dead heads alike, plus your average college party seekers, who definitely came to the right place. It’s these kind of bands that give local acts hope, and DAMN RIGHT!’s 3 part jamtronica dance music was the perfect compliment to EOTO’s style.  The young musicians seemed honored when Travis and Hann came on stage to start setting up their gear, and the house was more than ready for them.

Jason Hann

They started off on a fast note, immediately diving into their untz-ier material and setting an almost rave-like vibe for the night. Throughout the set, Jason’s beats stayed at a quick tempo and he treated the crowd to a lot of high hat action. Michael broke out his bass and dug into a few heavy lines, but it seemed like they were figuring out their sound and balance over the course of the set. Not so much between each other- they were smiling and their parts were flowing seamlessly- but in setting the sound levels and figuring out the space apparently took more time than usual.

Michael Travis, barefoot 🙂

True to form, the late crowd finally made their way to the Blockley by set break and had the building filled. Pleasantly, glows ticks and flashy toys did not overwhelm me, but their presence was noticed and I supposed may have been missed at an event like this. And, as soon as second set started, the sound was crisp and clear, unlike in the first set. EOTO went mellow to start back up, and everyone in the house seemed to love the smooth grooves they were getting into. Airy and spacey, the set reminded me of their original name, End Of Time Observatory- E.O.T.O..

EOTO

The set ended fairly abruptly- no encore, no lingering on stage, it was just over. The gorgeous visuals that danced behind Hann and Travis, the swooping lights, and the throbbing crowd simply ceased and that was that. Besides getting a coat stolen and one obvious incident of too many drugs, the scene was very positive and safe. The Blockley will see me again, and I will definitely be seeing EOTO again, hopefully sooner rather than later.

PRIMUS at Tower Theater, 10/1/11

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Primus, Saturday 10/1/11 Tower Theater, Upper Darby, PA

If you can say that you don’t know anything about Primus, at least you probably know that they are a strange band, these three wildly talented and creative individuals. You may not know Les Claypool and his unique take on bass driven music, his ability to transcend genres from funk to metal to jam, and his ear for the oddly fascinating. Leading the band since the mid-80’s, Claypool has gone through a number of changes in line-up for his primary project but with guitarist Larry ‘Ler’ LaLonde and drumming god Jay Lane, he seems to have gotten the sound just right.

Upper Darby, on the outskirts of Philadelphia, is not the friendliest neighborhood in PA, but on October 1, Primus fans, who are mostly white males about 18 to 35, came out in droves to see the long-anticipated return of one of the ‘90’s greatest hard rock bands. They were packed inside the historic looking venue, pressed against the golden-papered walls with their $8 micro-brews, and scurrying between the rows of seats to find their friends, a good viewing spot, or escape the usher.

The stage was set just the way Les has liked it since their triumphant return in 2009, with two massive, blow-up astronauts standing on either side of the stage, an old man floating in the helmet, looking around in a questioning way. They frame a large screen, which will show interesting, sometimes slightly disturbing scenes that change with each song.

When the lights go down and the blue fog starts to creep across the stage, Les, Ler, and Jay walk slowly to their spots and “To Defy the Laws of Tradition” begins to ring out. For a crowd that would normally jump all over each other to this song, the cushioned seats made them remarkably calm, even during a killer opening selections like this one. By the third song, their renowned “Frizzle Fry,” you could tell that the calmness of the audience was not impacting the band. They were playing as rowdy as we wanted to be, and “Fry” got people into the aisles where there was room to rock.

The imagery Claypool had chosen to accompany his songs during the first set seemed somewhat tame and didn’t distract too much from the music. For songs like “American Life,” he had repetitive subway shots, blips of a television, and more, but the film acted as more of a backdrop than a complimentary addition. “My Name is Mud” and the set closer, “Jerry Was a Racecar Driver” were both so explosive and intense that I noticed the video more when it was turned off than when it was playing.

Set break brought a surge of smokers to the streets of Upper Darby and a chattery buzz about the next set. Rumor had gotten around that they would be playing the new album, Green Naugahyde, straight through and after about 20 minutes of anxious waiting, it appeared this was the case. “Prelude to a Crawl” welcomed the band back on stage, Les finally breaking out his classic pig mask. The astronauts were lit up green and the film on screen had become more relevant and creepy, for example during “Eyes of the Squirrel,” when they showed a mutated, two headed squirrel eerily floating in a marsh, very much watching us.

Though they played some of these tracks during summer performances, seeing them in order and filling one set was seeing them for the first time in a new light. I thought it was interesting that Claypool chose to take this route, and that no one in the crowd was displeased with the idea. You can often find an audience like this one at a jam band show, where playing even the same song two shows in a row is damn near blasphemous, never mind the same set all tour. With this band, however, and this tour, it was very welcome and quite awesome. (For my exact feeling on each of these songs, check out the album review.)

The most Primus-y videos came at the end, in my easily freaked-out opinion. We got an in depth look at the albums cover art, an old timey bicycling boy, fallen and decrepit, missing an eye. There was footage of a squirming baby, which was cute at first, but got weird and intimidatingly quirky. And the album was concluded before you could blink; even in listening to it now, it seems short and sweet, the way they wanted it.

In Claypoolian brilliance, he never let the music die between the “Salmon Men” closer and the encore. Kicking the last hurrah off with “Here Come the Bastards” and keeping the energy all the way through “Puddin’ Time” got the crowd response that he, LaLonde, and Lane truly deserve for their music. PRIMUS SUCKS!

Picture to come!