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Published: 2003/11/28
by Dan Cohen

Perpetual Groove, Bourbon Street Bar, Auburn, Alabama-11/18

It was 9:30 PM on a rainy, Fall Tuesday night in Montgomery, Alabama.
Of course there is nothing to do, and nowhere to go right? Nope, not on
this Tuesday night. With no tread on our front tires, one working tail
light, and a half tank of gas, my girlfriend Shannon and I hopped in our car
and headed to Auburn to check out the high energy, intense electro-jams of
Perpetual Groove at the Bourbon Street Bar, on the heart of the ‘strip’ of
the campus of The University of Auburn. Having taken about an
hour to make the 50 mile drive from Montgomery to Auburn, most of which I
spent with my forehead almost pressed against the windshield so I could see
in the pouring down, sideways, monsoon of a rainstorm, we got to the venue
at around 10:30 to walk in on a nice crowd of folks as the band was just
starting to settle into their first set.

To open the show, Perpetual Groove engaged in "Perihelion," a somewhat off-kilter, bouncy tune that appears on their recent studio debut album, Sweet Oblivious Antidote, which Shannon and I popped in for the wet ride to Auburn to get into the P.G. frame of mind. This is a band of very fitting titles; there is perhaps no other band that comes to mind whose name so appropriately suits their sound and style. When trying to describe the sound I just kept getting back to the word, ‘groove’ even if it’s very eclectic, almost schizophrenic-sounding at times, with elements of reggae, hard rock, electronic, jazz and of course funk. With such an eclectic style, yet constantly maintaining their groove, they manage to hold the crowd’s attention throughout the show. Following the bouncy groove of the first tune the band then proceeded to explore their other styles of sound as they continued the first set with "Free Ride to the Show," and a duo of tunes, "Left to Drifting" -> "Crowded Tub." (the latter song reflects the band’s sense of humor). To close out the set, they delivered a high energy sample of electronic jam-groove with, "Space Paranoids." For an average band, this would have been a great set of music, but for Brock Butler (guitars, mandolin, vocals), Matt McDonald (keyboards), Adam Perry (bass, synthesizers), and Albert Suttle (drums, percussion), a great band, it was an average set of music. The second set far exceeded the first in intensity, creativity, and overall energy. "Thinkin’ Those Thoughts," an instrumental collage of sound, started the set, and kicked the show into high gear, with its long, drawn out, peaking jams that featured Matt on keys, displaying some very fine solo work. "All This Everything (part 1)" -> "All This Everything (part 2)," fit the bill, as "Part 1" with vocal work by Brock, was a solid yet pulsating rhythm that shot into the funky fireball that is "Part 2." Brock’s agile and fluid finger work on the fret board of his guitar stood out and made an impression during "Part 2." Adam’s bass intro commenced the gently lilting and off-kilter opening segment of "Crockett & Tubbs," which then escalated to some extended improvising featuring some fine tension and release jamming that would start mellow and thicken until it finally climaxed and lead to the end of the song. An up-beat and bouncy rendition of Paul Simon’s, "Diamonds on the Souls of Her Shoes," kept the crowd attentive as the band followed with "T.S.M.M." This one was a nice reggae groove that highlighted Brock on steel slide during the jam out towards the end. One judgment-lacking patron was apparently so inspired that he felt it necessary to hop on stage only to thrust himself off, as if to stage-dive… a P. G. show….. in a medium-crowded bar….. on Tuesday. He met his fate as he abruptly ate a slab of concrete, and was then kindly escorted out of the venue by the fine security force of the Bourbon Street Bar.

Meanwhile from the stage came the intro to the most eclectic and frankly, downright schizophrenic tune of the night, "Macumba." This one
quickly slithered into a nice reggae jam only to hit high stride with a
very Chuck Berry-esque riff that morphed into a trance groove featuring
Adam on synthesizers and Brock displaying his rapping abilities, covering
themes by Wu-Tang Clan, Snoop Dog (Gin and Juice), and
Beastie Boys. The next tune, "Beyond the Veil" featured a rolling intro
that built momentum towards a climactic peak, and then broke down to a hard
driving groove. The set closed out with Peter Gabriel’s "Sledgehammer,"
which the band covered very well in their own, electro-jam style. This had
the crowd calling for one more tune right at 2:00, and the band answered
as they jumped back on stage to play what was my favorite tune of the night,
"Mr. Transistor." This was an eclectic instrumental featuring one peak
after another as the band eventually broke down to a driving groove that
built to a blistering scream and exploded into joyous sound before it
mellowed out and came to an end to put a perfect wrap on a great night of

These four guys from Savannah, Georgia are young and haven’t been
around that long, but they are just as good as anyone at what they do,
and they will only get better. Their debut CD is well worth checking
out, and if they come anywhere near your town to play a live show,
don’t miss the opportunity to see what their _Sweet Oblivious
Antidote_ is all about. It's medicine for your ears, mind, and soul.

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