Particle, Knitting Factory, NYC- 12/18
In recent memory, there have been very few club-level bands that have created
the buzz that Particle now enjoys. Their self-defined "spaceporn" has won over fans
in droves in California and most recently, thanks to a six hour show, in Las
Vegas. They pulled into New York's Knitting Factory on Tuesday night,
welcomed by a near capacity crowd, despite having never played on the east
coast and having been together for less than one year. The large crowd was
a clear testament to the power of the internet. A band from California with no radio airplay or "official" album release was taking the stage in New York City to a crowded room of people. Particle is a four-piece featuring keyboardist Steve Molitz, bassist Eric
Gould, Darren Pujalet on drums and newest member Charlie Hitchcock on guitar.
The music they create is easily comparable to the likes of The Disco
Biscuits, STS9 and The New Deal.
The show started just before 9:00 as the four members took the stage to a
fairly loud ovation, especially considering that very few people had heard
much of their music. The band opened with a high energy song, which energized the
crowd but then the group repeated this approach quite a bit over the course of the first set. So
while it is clear that the band is talented, it still has some growing to do.
When you see music as often as many of us do, it is very easy to have
your perception skewed in one direction or another. Many people find it easy to
think a band is better than they actually are, simply because they are playing a type
of music that the individual enjoys. On the other hand, it is even easier to think
a band is not good at all because they are doing something that a particular
individual does not like at all, when in fact, the band is quite talented
(the Disco Biscuits come to mind here for me). All in all though, I feel that
Particle is still too young to compare to the aforementioned bands. The group
has a tremendous upside, one that will surely come to fruition in another year
or two. In the meantime, if you are looking for a good night out listening to some
real upbeat party music, Particle will be right up your alley.
Steve Molitz on keys is clearly the musical leader, playing a variety of
boards and leading many of the songs with flair and funk. Conversely, I found Eric Gould's bass playing to be stagnant, a critique I have of several bass-players within this realm of music. I think my friend Adam put it best when he said Eric was "keeping the beat, rather than making it." This isn't to
say that what he was doing was easy but I felt he repeatedly fell into a comfort
zone that he rarely left. Meanwhile Darren Pujalet's drumming was very impressive. His timing is impeccable and I noticed on more than
one occasion that his rolls were well constructed and it seemed effortless
how he changed the beat. Finally, Charlie Hitchcock's guitar playing was
cutting and tight. He is definitely one of the fastest guitar players I've seen in a
while, but when he chose to go slow, which wasn't very often, his lines were
concise. His speed was dazzling as he danced all around the fretboard
switching from scale to scale.
Still I feel the band needs to work a bit on dynamics, rather than offering the
full-on, perpetual sonic assault. The group has a real shot at being great in the
future, with flashes of greatness now. For instance the first set's closing "Knee
Knocker" displayed Particle in all their glory, with each member taking turns tearing it up in a fiery manner. Still, the band needs to work a bit on changing the pace and create different textures and moods. Nonetheless, Particle is certainly worth checking
out so that everyone can see and hear for themselves.