In the middle of Primal Scream's set at 9:30 Club Friday, my friend Chris, who only was familiar with 2006's "Riot City Blues" LP, leaned over to me and told me he had to get his hands on more Primal Scream records. Sadly, I think they'd only disappoint. A fan for years, I'd never seen the band live, and they were so heavy and intense, no studio recording could capture that sound. Now, I'm afraid I won't be able to enjoy the LPs anymore, either.
$25 seemed steep for a set I wasn't sure I'd enjoy. The band goes back and forth between tried-and-true roots rock and roll and club rock -- the former which I admire and the latter which tends to lose me -- and a blend of the two, which, when soulful, is brilliant. One could hope the set would be a blend, but who knew for sure? I prepared to fork it over simply because I'd never seen the band, and the first good omen was that it was two for one -- and Chris had already agreed to buy the drinks when I offered to buy his ticket.
The show started out fine, but nothing too special. "Country Girl," the song that first grabbed Chris a while back, came fourth and was really good, but again, not too special. But this was another momentum-building set. A lights show that included a series of green laser lights shot from above the drummer over the heads of the crowd downstairs certainly helped set the mood, and the music just got more and more intense. For the most part, the band was playing that mix of classic and club rock I so admire, with a couple that leaned more toward roots and a couple that leaned more toward raves. And the set was heavy on material from "Riot City Blues" and last year's "Beautiful Future." But everything was just so much heavier and louder than expected.
And eventually, the set reached mind-blowing. The last five songs or so each sounded like it could serve as a big finish, which probably is why they didn't bother with a gratuitous encore. Though the crowd didn't do anything to curb D.C.'s rep for boring audiences, some pockets of dancing did break out. I'm not one to complain of a lack of audience response, because I'm merely a head-bobber myself these days, but my left calf is still sore from the dancing I did do. When the band lit into "Movin' on Up" off the landmark 1991 album "Screamadelica," I couldn't resist, and I kept bouncing through "Rocks" and into the punky closer "Accelerator," though my knee gave way -- old injury the rainy nights always help me to remember -- and I had to sit down.
Primal Scream's albums NEVER made me hurt myself, though I love them dearly just the same.