Primate Fiasco strolled through Upstate New York a few weeks back with stops in Syracuse and Canton. We are always quick to talk about these guys because they are famous for bringing something new and April 22nd was no different when they performed at Funk ‘n Waffles downtown Syracuse. Perhaps more so than usual.
The show was a mini Sterling Stage family reunion of sorts. Chris James and Mama G opened the evening with a few songs before being joined by the Spittin’ Sirens. I like what the Sirens add to the mix, playing the spoons, other percussion, and one of the most unique hand-made instruments I’ve seen. It was a stand-up, single string bass consisting of a 1972 Ludwig kick drum, a 2×4, and a single piece of parachute cord for a string. It sounded awesome. In the midst of some originals, they busted out great covers of Billy Idol’s “White Wedding” and “You Better You Bet” by The Who. Next up was Boots ‘n Shorts. They are a good local bluegrass band that have been around for years and a good band to bring you to the headliners.
Once Primate Fiasco hit the stage it was clear they brought a bag of new tricks, starting with newest addition, drummer Will Sigal. Will just joined the band this year. He studied jazz drumming at Ithaca College and is no chump. It’s hard to imagine the Primate sound without their original drummer, but Will injects a new approach to the songs that give them a fresh new feel. These guys definitely spent winter hibernation doing some revamping of the Primate library. Some songs have some new arrangements worked in and I noticed a bunch of new electronic elements added to the arsenal, giving their sound a whole new edge. I would describe it as a disco slammin’ jamtronic new Lotus, only with tubas and accordions. I can try to paint the picture with words all I want, but some things just can’t be captured that way. Check out this snippet of tuba master Kevin LaRose jamming at the Primate Fiasco show in Canton on 4/23. Primate Fiasco advertises their sound as “Instruments from the past, Music from the future.” This video is the epitome of that statement. I’m pretty sure this is EXACTLY what John Philip Sousa had in mind when he invented the sousaphone!
You can’t have a new member and new sound without it lending itself to new songs. On this night, the Fiasco presented a different arrangement of the recent instrumental, “Steamfunk,” that includes a section where the music speeds up like a freight train running off the tracks, before slowing back down and ending the song like a train coming into the station. Mid way through the show, they debuted 2 new brand spanking new songs, back to back. The first one, an instrumental inspired by the comedian and named “Louis CK,” is built around a real catchy melody. The second brand new song was called “Little Arrows.” With only that single listen, I was able to decipher a shout out to Syracuse, among a bed of lyrics that seem a tad personal or maybe even darker than what we are accustomed to hearing in a Primate Fiasco song. The line I recall from this song is, “There’s no place like home. I wear too many hats to hang.” Check back soon for our interview with Dave Russo, where he explains this new song and where it comes from . . .
Their biggest song, “Sidekick” produced the usual frenzy, reminding you that faces may change in The Primate Fiasco, but the vibe will always remain. This frenzy poured over into “March of the Goosepimp,” as fans in the crowd started grabbing anything that could be used as a drumstick and started playing each other! Kevin LaRose stepped down into the crowd for a sousaphone solo surrounded by a crowd of friends, before they closed out the show with the crowd favorite, “Wrist Band Tan Line.”
For an encore, they closed the show with “Demon” but before that, we held witness to a once in a lifetime moment. Singer Dave Russo stepped off the stage, approached a “very special someone” who happened to be celebrating her birthday with us that night, and led the crowd in singing “Happy Birthday To You,” followed by a personal serenade mashup of “Ain’t She Sweet” (Frank Sinatra style, not the Beatles), and the 1920’s classic that Dean Martin used to sing, “Five Foot Two, Eyes of Blue.” Faces weren’t the only thing that The Primate Fiasco melted that night . . . Happy Birthday to you Special Someone!
The creative juices seem to be at a constant with The Primate Fiasco. A little bird told me they presented yet a third new song, the next night in Canton, that they put the finishing touches on at rehearsal in Syracuse just hours prior. I CANNOT wait to see what comes next! If you want to get up to speed with Primate Fiasco in their current form you have plenty of opportunity in the coming weeks and months. The next time they can be found melting faces in the Upstate NY area will be May 26th in the Adirondacks at Saranac Lake’s Waterhole, followed by an appearance at the Mayfest yoga and music festival May 28 in Cold Springs, NY, and OF COURSE they can be found at Sterling Stage’s Ameribeat Festival in Sterling, NY July 3rd, leading a second line parade around the festival grounds along with a main stage performance. Get to any one of these and you will smile and immediately seek out the next time you can run into these talented musicians. The Primate Fiasco never disappoint. EVER!
AUTHOR: George DiFabio
PHOTOS: Jerrie DiFabio
5/26 – The Waterhole @ Saranac Lake – https://www.facebook.com/events/1710401385902001/
5/28 – Mayfest @ Cold Springs – https://www.facebook.com/events/993408994039090/
7/3 – Ameribeat Festival @ Sterling Stage, Sterling – https://www.facebook.com/events/515940425230749/
Primate Fiasco SETLIST – 4/22/2016 – Syracuse
Jam > Not Expecting Guests, Whale, Steamfunk, South Pole and the Pyramids, Saturn Returns, Louis CK, Little Arrows, Everything Peaks, Sidekick, March of the Goosepimp, Wristband Tan Line.
Encore – Happy Birthday To You, Ain’t She Sweet, Five Foot Two, Eyes of Blue, Demon