From: Yance Davis
Harpua Files: Las Vegas 12/6/96

I won't waste time telling people what a fine show this was as there are still reviews of it on the Usenet. Just look to people's "Best of '96" lists and you are almost certain to find this one on every list. After such a Fat show, I don't think people were expecting Too much from the encore and certainly not what they got. Trey's first line after returning from backstage prepared them a bit though "Thanks everybody for the last show here.. We're happy to bring a couple of friends who're gonna come up and help us out. (applause) We're gonna get Larry and Les from Primus up here to come help us out." (sick deafening applause) Now by this point, everyone's psyched and expecting much, but come on... it's still the encore so it can't be anything too long or wild. Wrong again. For the first time since Halloween 1995, the foursome steps to the mic to chant "Oom Pa Pa, Oom Pa Pa, Oom Pa Pa, Oom Pa Pa-aaaah" (the last Harpua before, Clifford Ball, was Oompa-less, you'll remember). Now this is Far from your typical Harpua in many regards. First off, the whole rhythm is slowed down significantly, with a lot more of a laid back feel to it, for the benefit of Primus I'd say. The regular verses are sung the same way, but the chorus is about twice as long, and both times they go into the "me and Harpua" line, someone fucks it up, not quite used to the different style. It's difficult to explain, but where normally it's more like Me and Harpua, We couldn't care fewer on 12/6/96 it's more like Me and Har-pua, ....., we couldn't care FEWer with just a little more stress on syllables like the "Me" and the "few" in fewer. Both verses go off like this, but at the end of the second one where the transition into the Story generally occurs, Les steps up to add his own verse, which though having nothing at all to do with Harpua, still adds nicely to the song. *Wildwood Weed Rap* as performed by Les Claypool (for those of you who don't know, Les has a very twiny voice, so some words come out to quick for me to get, but I'll do my best to get the whole thing here) Now the Wildwood flower grew out on the farm and we never knowed what it was called. Some say it's a flower and some say it's a weed well, I never gave it much thought. Now one day I was out there talkin' to my brother and I reached down for a weed to chew on. Things got fuzzy and things got blurry and then everything was gone. I didn't know what it was but I knew it beat the hell out of sniffin' glue When I finally came to, there was my brother Bill he says "Now, what's wrong with your eyes?" I said "I dunno I'm just chewing on this here weed" He says "Well lemme give it a try." It took the rest of that day, and most of the night to find my brother Bill. I caught up with him about five o' clock the next morning he was naked, hanging on a windmill. Said he flew up there. I had to fly up and get him down cuz he was half-naked. Well, smokin' the weeds became kind of a habit around them parts We never seen no harm. We thought it was kinda handy. You take a trip and never Leave the farm. One little hit off the Wildwood flower and pretty soon you're back there behind the wild animals. Well all good things have to come to an end and it's the same with the Wildwood weed. A man came out from Washington, spotted us and turned 'bout as White as a sheet. Well, he burned and he dug and he dug and he burned, and he killed all our cute little weeds. Then he got in his truck, and he drove away. We just smiled and we waved, sittin' on them sacks of seeds. Now I'm not sure if this is a Primus tune, or someone else's, but there is a clear rhyme scheme throughout the rap, so it wasn't just a little improv story Les was telling, though if you listen to it as he tells it, the rhyme is practically unnoticeable. Anyway, the audience gets a kick out of the story, but still the music does not stop and the six people currently up on stage proceed to jam it out for a little bit, keeping the hillbilly-esque beat which went on through Les's Weed story. Finally, at 5:15, a full two and a half minutes longer than usual, the music dies down for Trey to take the mic and Larry and Les head off the stage for a while. Trey mumbles something before getting to the story similar to "So white as a sheet, he came out..." refering methinks to the Wildwood Weed rap. It seems as though Trey considers starting the story at first like that, but changes his mind halfway through that sentence and pauses for a bit before starting it off in a more typical fashion. "That's right... as the sky gets a little bit greener up here, the lights, the limelights disappear and the sky gets greener we find ourselves IN the little suburb on the outskirts of Gamehendge.. (typical Gamehendge mention applause) "...standing in a beautiful green day. And we look to the right and we see a little street going down the road, it's a beautiful suburban street, we look to our left and we see a Mountain, rising up out of the sky. And we look to this direction and we see a forest off in the distance and we realize that we are in the suburbs on the outskirts of Gamehendge. And um, on this particular day, somewhere down in a little white house with a little door down the street, on this suburban street, there lived a little boy named Jimmy. And um, on this particular day, Jimmy's feeling a little bit anxious because he's been sitting in suburbia for so long, he's bored, he's anxious. And he decides that he's gonna go on a crazy trip. So he decides that he's gonna take his little feline friend, his cat, his beautiful confidant, his pussy cat, his Best Friend, Poster Nutbag.. (typical Poster Nutbag applause) "yes, ... the two of them are gonna go on a little trip. So what they decide they're gonna do, they decide they're gonna walk all the way from the outskirts of Gamehendge to the bright neon lights and the golden opportunities and the huge buildings of Las Vegas, Nevada. "That's right, he's gonna take his life savings out of his savings bank and he's going to take it to Las Vegas, Nevada. He's gonna lay it down on the roulette table and he's gonna become a very very rich man in a short period of time as we all have in the last couple of days, right? So he says... That's right.. He looks down to his little feline friend, Poster Nutbag, and he says "Poster, you know it's been a long time since we went on a real adventure so... so let's go." "Off he goes, he walks out the door. He takes a left. He goes down the street. He walks down the street. He walks past the school, he walks past the fire department and he keeps walking walking, and slowly the buildings start to melt away and eventually he finds himself trodding through the desert, you know, cuz he forgets that Las Vegas is in the middle of nowhere. So he's walking and walking and the day's getting longer, walking, and he's walking and walking. They're both walking and he looks down and he pets and he walks and he pets and he walks. And they walk and they walk and slowly it gets darker and darker. And eventually he realizes that he's been walking for so long he's not gonna make it to Vegas on this particular night. So he decides he's going to have to set up camp, just like the.. the uh, people who first came out across the desert. He finds a little rocky area, and uh, he puts a few rocks in a circle and he puts some twigs and he makes a little fire and he sits down with Poster Nutbag and he says "Here we shall camp for the night." So the two of them sit down and he leans back against the rock, and he puts his hands behind his head and says to the cat he says "you know this is really beautiful Poster. You know, Poster Nutbag, my feline friend. Just me and you all alone, out here in the desert, a thousand miles from the city lights. I look you in the eye and I pet you and I look at you and I look at your beautiful feline eyes.." And it was such a moving and touching moment as the two of them looked into each other's eyes, out in the middle of the desert, that they leaned back and they began to break into song. And not only did they break into song, but they began to yodel together, and it was a beautiful yodeling sound. Drifting off into the distance as the moon hung above them and they looked at each other and they began to yodel. yodelling.. singing that old coutry tune... singing that old country tune and yodelling.. yodelling... (At this part, two women come out with John McEuen playing a slide guitar for an old country tune) I wanna be a cowboy sweetheart, I wanna learn to romp and ride. I wanna ride on the plains and the desert And west of the Great Divide. I wanna hear the coyotes howlin' while the sun sets in the west I wanna be a cowboy sweetheart the life I love the best (and this point the yodelling begins which I will not transcribe) I wanna ride on (-----), goin' on the run, I wanna feel the wind in my face A thousand miles from all the city lights Goin' at a cowhand's pace I want a thrill on my head, near the sleepin' herd While the moon shines down from above I wanna strum my guitar, woo-de-ley-hee-hoo That's the life I love (more yodelling) The story continues with Trey attempting to yodel where the girls left off. "They yodelled together the two of them, Poster Nutbag and Jimmy and it was such a beautiful touching moment as they yodelled.. They rolled out their bedrolls and they went to sleep. Well when they work up, they looked around and they realized that they were not far from Vegas. They were actually camping out in the Red Rocks mountain area. They looked around ...yes.. This is not Red Rocks in Colorado. This is Red Rocks, for those of you who haven't been there. The Red Rocks Right near here about half an hour from here. They woke up and they were kind of in this little cave and they looked up at all these orange rocks and they though "We are not far from Vegas." And they began to walk, and they walked again and walked. And they walked along, and they walked and they walked and finally... they got to the outskirts of Vegas, you know, first they saw the above the town and they saw some neon off in the distance and some scary kind of... they were going through a really eerie kind of scary neighborhood when they first got there and as they walked down this one road... they were almost there where they were gonna get rich and famous, but suddenly these people started coming out kinda from.. lurking in the corner and they realized that they were some scary guys from the outskirts of town who were gonna make trouble. "And so here's Jimmy, he's looking around and these guys start to come up to him and uh, he sees that there's about four of them and as they get closer he realizes that they're actually four Elvis's walking towards him. "And just as the Elvis's approach them... (tremendous applause as Elvis's get on stage) ".. they said.... The four Elvis's came up to them, and here they are now, right... The four Elvis's. And the four Elvis's said "You can't come into Vegas unless you beat us at your own game. You've got to eing an Elvis song better than us in order to be accepted into Vegas. So Jimmy said "I can do it! I can sing an Elvis song better than you. I'll take you on right now any time, any place," so... At this point, the four Elvis's break into song singing "Suspicious Minds" while Phish provides the background music. They Elvis's get most of the verses, saving just the last one for Fishman, in typical S.M. blinking jacket, while the Elvis's stare on in admiration. Toward the end, there is a noticeable slide guitar in the background, so I think it's safe to say John McCuen had come back out for this one. As one of the Elvis's leaves the stage he murmurs something to the extent of "Thank you boys. Please enter Las Vegas now" before being taken backstage again. Trey continues immediately with the narration. "It worked! We won! We won the battle of the Elvis's. Jimmy ... and they let 'em into Las Vegas. They let him into Las Vegas cuz the Elvis's had a good heart. They knew that he was quite a man to be able to sing Suspicious Minds with them.. Good bye Elvis's." Fishman: "How bout a hand for the Elvis" "He did it. He got in. He got into Las Vegas. Oh. Good, cuz he felt like, he was in the spirit of Vegas, having beaten the Elvis's at their own game. He took his.. He took his twelve dollars that he had saved in his piggy bank and he went into the casino. He walked down the street past Caesar's Palace and all the others, til he saw the Alladin, beaming, in front of them. And he walked in the door, and he walked up to the roullette table and he took his life savings and he said "I know it! I know what number it's gonna be. It's gonna be number 17." And I'm telling you all, to take all your money, walk out this door and put it on 17. You too, will be rich people tonight. 17. "Anyway, just as he's reaching down to lay the money on 17, Suddenly, what he didn't realize is that Harpua, the mangy dog that the original song was about, had been following the scent of Poster Nutbag, all the way from the outskirts of GAmehendge to Vegas. He had caught the scent of the campfire that they had slept by and of the yodeller and the Elvis's and finally he had traced the scent all the way to the Alladin. And as he walked up, he came to the door and he saw Poster Nutbag across the room. And before Jimmy could put his money down on 17, suddenly the dog and the cat caught each other's eyes across the room... "The little beams of hatred going back and forth between the cat and the dog's eyes... Everybody in the casino sensed that there was gonna be a Horrible fight. They cleared a circle around the blackjack tables. Suddenly the fight began (Loud battling noises with the occasional screechy cat effect) After that, "look the Storm's gone" comes in as normal and the song ends without further incident. The only oddity comes at the "Your cat DIED!" line, as they clearly don't say "died" and instead it's something to the effect of "changed". This doesn't really make too much sense, but it's definitely NOT "died" that they say. Total time on this: a Whopping 27:08. Not only that, but Harpua is followed by one of the finest Suzies I've heard. By the time Suzie is halfway through, all of Primus, John M, the yodellers and 4 Elvis's are back onstage wailing away in their own ways to create this inpentrable wall of Suzie. Highly recommended, even if a little looser than usual. The Harpua is of course recommended, though I almost always recommend them. Hope ye enjoyed