Perpetual Groove, The Exit/In Nashville, TN- 1/22
It's funny sometimes how life seems to come full circle when you aren't expecting it, and you don't even really realize that it is happening until after it actually happens. Two years ago, on January 25th, 2003, My (now) fiancShannon and I drove from Montgomery, Alabama, where we live, to the Tabernacle in Atlanta to see what would be our first moe. show together (my neighbor introduced us on October 17th, 2002, a night which I drove Shannon to Zydeco in Birmingham to see Umphrey's McGee…pretty cool first date, huh?). That night, Atlanta radio legend, Jeff Dunham, came out on the stage with his daughter, Stella Blue, and had her introduce moe. After the moe show that night, a band I had never seen before was playing downstairs at the Cotton Club…a band called Perpetual Groove. Don't get me wrong, I had certainly heard OF them, through websites like this one, I had just never HEARD them. I remember being pretty damn impressed that night, and wanting to definitely hear them again.
Cut to nine months later, October 11th, 2003 in New Orleans…we were there to see a Saturday night Widespread Panic show at UNO, a latenight Particle show at Tipitina’s Uptown, and then head straight to Atlanta right afterwards (with a short stop at home in Montgomery for a nap) to catch Ratdog at The Variety Playhouse. But, before the Panic show in New Orleans, we stopped at Mushroom Records on Broadway, and they just happened to have a copy of Perpetual Groove’s first Harmonized Records studio album Sweet Oblivious Antidote. It was the first time I had seen it anywhere in person, so compulsive shopping, excitement, and common sense all took over at the same time, and I bought it. It quickly became one of my very favorite discs to listen to. Five weeks later, on November 18th, 2003, Shannon and I saw our very first full Perpetual Groove show at Bourbon St. Bar in Auburn. I was so completely blown away that night that I was compelled to make an attempt at writing a review, that the editors of this site so kindly posted, even though it was rather obvious that this was the first time I had seen this band play a full live show.
The next year rolls around and our first show of the year was moe. at The Fox Theatre in Atlanta on January 31st, 2004. Jeff Dunham was there that night as well, and it kinda felt like a one-year anniversary of the shows at the Tabernacle. As the story goes, since that night at the Fox Theatre in Atlanta, in the last year, Shannon and I have seen 21 Perpetual Groove shows all over the Southeastern United States in cities including Atlanta, Athens, Savannah, Charlotte, Jacksonville (Florida), Ft. Lauderdale, Auburn, Nashville, Knoxville, and Memphis…among others. The funny thing is, it kinda seems like it all just happened without us really realizing it. The story now brings us to Nashville, Tennessee, January 22nd, 2005 where Shannon and I (now engaged to be married on May 7th, for which we are making very special plans) find ourselves sitting in room 610 of the Hampton Inn and Suites with Jeff Dunham and Hal the Clown, discussing the last night’s show in Memphis, the jamband scene, and that night’s upcoming show a block down the street at the Exit/In. At that point, it had become very clear to me that this night was going to be a two-year anniversary for Shannon and I with this band, and an overall evening to remember. It truly is funny sometimes how life seems to come full circle when you aren’t expecting it, and you don’t even really realize that it is happening until after it actually happens.
As for the show that night, well what can I say? It was Perpetual Groove in Nashville; the band members were all in good moods and fine spirits it seemed and it was snowing sideways outside. The setting was perfect, and now I’m ready to tell you a little bit about that show, especially since I feel a little more prepared now than I did back in November of 2003. On the way out of the venue, the night before in Memphis, in passing, I kinda just blurted out, in the band’s general direction, some tunes that I sorta wouldn’t mind hearing them play the next night in Nashville. These aren’t necessarily all songs that are in their regular rotation, but here’s what I blurted out heading towards the door of the venue, "How about an Occam’s’ opener…a Mota->Sunshine Underground’ would be cool too…..oh yea, what about a La Casa Bien’ sandwich as well!" I figured they weren’t paying attention and/or I was asking for a little too much. Now, I’m not sure if it’s coincidence, or if they did hear me and were paying attention, but what happened the next night in Nashville was magical and will always be a truly special evening for me.
It was freezing cold in Nashville and snowing like crazy; Perpetual Groove came onto the stage and brought the heat with them as they opened up with a smokin’ hot "Occam’s Blazer," an instrumental written by drummer, Albert Suttle. On most nights when the band plays this tune, Albert turns it into his own little world for the rest of the band to dive into and frolic freely and frantically. This rendition is no exception, and ended up turning into 25 minutes of pure PG FIRE! After "Stealy Man," a tune from their second Harmonized Records release, All This Everything, bassist, Adam Perry laid down the first few lines of "La Casa Bien", and I rejoiced. This is a beautiful tune written by Perry that simply must be heard to be fully appreciated. On this night, the good house’ sheltered the finely penned, fluently flowing, "Left to Drifting." With touching lyrics, and an infectious vibe, Drifting’ fell perfectly into place in what I’d like to call the La Casa->Drifting->La Casa Burrito.’
The band continued their one long, 2 hour set by kicking it into high gear with their straightforward and aggressive rock and roll tune, "Aim." The lyrical segment of "Aim" came and went, then the band engaged in the jam portion of the tune, which usually heads full steam back into the main lyrical reprise. However, on this night, this jam started to veer off to the side a little bit….things were getting interesting….they were skewing off onto another tangent. Beautiful notes started jetting and protruding at all angles, in every direction from guitarist Brock Butler’s side of the stage, as keyboardist, Matt McDonald got downright cryptical. Chills ran up and down my spine as I realized they were headed towards the space-aged groove vehicle, "Mota," which made its journey through the cosmos and then accelerated towards the Sun….."Sunshine Underground" that is, of course. "Mota" and "Sunshine Underground" seem to fit together quite well, where "Mota" is a fluid galactic boat ride through the cosmos, "Sunshine Underground" really kicks the journey into high gear and becomes a wild inter-planetary (yet underground) roller coaster ride. What a rush! "Sunshine Underground" hit high stride back through the atmosphere and headed full steam back to Earth as the band seamlessly nailed the transition back into the reprise of "Aim." Wow!
"Macumba," a crowd-pleasing tune about penguins (I guess), made its appearance next, and was split in half by an energetic vocal rap by a guitarless Butler. This rap contained Paul Revere,’ Samson,’(from Half Baked) and Ali Baba,’ and really got the crowd stirred up into a fun frenzy. The long set was brought to a close by the perpetually fireballing mega-jam, "Robot Waltz" and a cover of Weezer’s "Sweater Song." Having gotten to know Perpetual Groove’s music pretty well in the last year or so, there was only one piece of the puzzle missing for me on the night, and apparently it was the same piece of the puzzle missing for the band, the encore and fan favorite, "Mr. Transistor." I have tried numerous times to put descriptive words to "Mr. Transistor," and it usually comes out sounding something like this: an unreleased instrumental composition that blazed through musical transitions while constantly building in energy, eventually reaching a blistering scream and exploding into joyous sound before it mellowed out and came to an end to put a perfect wrap on a truly magical and memorable night of music. What more can I say?
I do a lot of driving for my occupation, but thankfully, I get to do it alone, in my own car. So, I get the opportunity to think a lot and listen to whatever music I want to. Earlier today, I was driving, and listening to Perpetual Groove, when all of the sudden, it hit me. Perpetual Groove is much like a Christmas tree. Albert, the drummer is the base or the stand of the tree…he keeps it grounded and stable while providing the foundation for the rest of the band to build on. Adam, the bassist is like the trunk of the tree, providing the thick and dense core that holds all of the branches and leaves together. Yep, you guessed it…guitarist Brock Butler would be the branches and leaves that give the tree its very life and beauty. I would have to say that keyboardist Matt McDonald would be all the lights and ornaments that really make the tree light up, look fancy, sparkle, and be much more appealing overall. If you are a lover of great music, these four guys, who so appropriately call themselves Perpetual Groove are a cohesive and structurally sound unit that is not to be missed if they come anywhere near you. I have a feeling they are on their way to bigger, better, and greater things.