Babylon A Go-Go
At the time of this show, Primus had not yet enjoyed any real mainstream success, but they were definitely on the verge. They were touring behind the wonderfully eccentric Sailing The Seas Of Cheese record. When the show was announced, I realized I knew nothing about the venue aside from hearing the name in passing. I was pretty certain that the place was probably a dive bar, and I questioned why Primus would have been booked there. I would soon realize that my suspicions about the venue were very accurate.
I talked another one of my co-workers into going to the show with me. I purchased the tickets at the local independent record store as soon as they went on sale, and I’m glad I did, as it apparently sold out fast. We got to the venue, which was not in the greatest neighborhood, and I immediately got nervous as we got in line to enter. Before we even got in, I was sizing up the venue on the outside, and I had a bad feeling about it. As we entered, the feeling went from bad to worse. I tried to shake my nervousness, and I made a beeline to the front, right hand corner of the stage, as I knew that was where Primus singer/bass player Les Claypool would be stationed. The crowd started filling in quickly, and by the time the opening band, Tad, was in the middle of their set, the atmosphere became uncomfortable. By the time Tad finished, and I looked behind me, I was pretty terrified.
Primus took the stage, and the crowd was ready to pop. The temperature inside the place was just insane. The minute the music started, the crowd started to push and mosh. I just focused on the band and tried to forget about what was going on behind me. I started getting pushed out of my spot, and into the people that were sitting at the bar to my immediate right. They started getting pissed off, and kept pushing me hard back towards my original spot. But there was no chance I was going to lose that spot. At one point, all of a sudden I got lifted up in the air and was briefly crowd surfing. I have no idea how it happened, since it happened so quickly. I recall looking behind me and seeing so much movement, with many people jumping up and down in unison. I got down pretty quickly, but it was enough to freak me out pretty bad.
After a few more songs, someone got up on the stage and whispered something to Les. He got on the microphone and told the crowd that they needed to step back and calm down. I am pretty certain that nobody heeded the warning, because a few songs later, the same guy got onstage and whispered something to Les again. This time he told the crowd that if they didn’t calm down, they would no longer be able to play. Even this did not seem to deter the crowd. The general chaos continued, and this time the band stopped playing mid-song. Les addressed the crowd, saying something to the effect of “Don’t blame us folks, show is over.”
I looked around, and half the crowd was angry, while the other half was stunned. I was completely stunned, as I had looked forward to seeing Primus for a few years, and all I got was approximately 40 minutes. As we made our way out, I kept hearing people talk about “the floor.” We stood outside the tour bus for a little while, and again, I heard people talking about the floor. I asked someone next to me if he knew what happened, and he said that he heard the floor buckled under the weight of all the people jumping and generally going crazy. As far as I know, that was the last show ever at that venue. I was just glad to get out of there in one piece. Looking back, it was definitely one of the most dangerous situations I have ever been a part of at a show. This may sound crazy, but that kind of volatility and unpredictability was intoxicating. After this show, I secretly longed for that feeling of fear. Regardless of how nervous these types of shows made me, I couldn’t get enough. In every other aspect of my life, I avoided any kind of danger or confrontation at all costs. This was different, and I loved every minute of it.