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Primus with Pseudopod, Groove Hop, North House, and Spanc
By Ram Samudrala
(more articles from this author)
2000-04-09
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The Fillmore in San Francisco was the location for the first Musicomania, a "battle of the bands" type contest consisting of college bands, sponsored by the Internet Underground (?) Music Archive (IUMA). At first, I was a bit reticent to wait through four bands to see one of my favourite bands ever, but I was pleasantly surprised!

Pseudopod were first. Hailing from UCLA, the band thrilled the crowd with a hip-hop meets the Dave Matthews Band type of sound. The presentation was slick and polished, and by the end of the short performance, the crowd were chanting their name loudly. The band itself was fairly decent, but I thought the guitarist was really really really good! Next up were Groove Hop from Purdue University, who were also very good and had a Red Hot Chili Peppers flavour to them. The crowd did manage to groove along a bit to them, but not as much as for Pseudopod.

One of the more novel bands, North House, was from Harvard. For this band, I moved up completely to the front and was joined by several girls from Harvard who did their best to sell the band to me. They didn't need to: the band was awesome, featuring an excellent female vocalist, Becky Warren, who definitely appealed to the male crowd (but didn't use her sex appeal as well as she could've) and a good guitarist, Al Bennett, who appealed to the female crowd (and who did use his sex appeal). The best part of the North House performance was the amazing keyboard work by Jose Sandoval. With his brilliant Hammond B3 Organ sound, he truly distinguished North Face from the other bands. Finally, Spanc from Colorado State University came on with three tough acts to follow. Considering that they were a bit out of tune, they didn't do that well, but still put on a fine show.

In the end, Pseudopod won, but all bands put on great performances and ended up being one of the best opening set of acts that I've seen.

Primus came on finally after a long set change and opened with Sgt. Baker. The band was in fine form as they ran through classic thrash-funk tunes such as My Name is Mud, Damned Blue Collar Tweekers, Jerry was a Racecar Driver, Frizzle Fry, The Toys Go Winding Down, Harold of the Rocks, and newer tunes from their latest Antipop album such as a Greet the Sacred Cow, Lacquer Head, The Voyage of the Liquid Sky, and the title track. Because of their late start, Primus unfortunately didn't come back for an encore.

Since this show wasn't part of their normal tour, Primus did play an extremely self-indulgent set where there were a lot of impromptu jams that included an amazing rendition of In the Flesh by Pink Floyd, Hello Skinny by The Residents, and Sweet Home Alabama by Alabama. When I first used to see Primus, Les would play his bass like a maniac while doing the famous one-legged dance. He remains a true showman, but he is definitely subdued these days. It was heartening and amusing to see him repeat those antics for tracks from the new album. Also cool was the fact that this was a small venue and the show was performed without extensive props.

I don't think much of IUMA or their marketing policies but I do have to say that this was a grand idea and they arranged a terrific show! Definitely a once-in-a-lifetime event.


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