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Particle, Canal Club, Richmond, VA 9/21

I’m going a little easier on Gabby La La here than I had planned, but I am tiring of seeing her everywhere – opening for Colonel Claypool’s Bucket of Bernie Brains, appearing at The Jammys 2005, at All Good Music Festival and now, opening for Particle. It’s not because she’s all that bad, she’s just better suited for a performance-art minded band like The Flaming Lips, rather than Particle.

Particle’s two roaring sets reminded me why I made the trip to Richmond and why the wait up front is always worth it. They control at every speed and seem to have come out of their Hydra experience with Mickey Hart (I saw the DC show 9:30 Club) better for it. All four members emanate an undeniably confident energy and spoon an authoritative and heavy headed night of trancy rock that is steady through the moods.

“Kneeknocker,” “Ed & Molly” and a first time cover of Santana’s “Evil Ways” were first-half notables. “Evil Ways” was expectedly vocal free, as is Particle’s way; Charlie Hitchcock’s electric guitar took their place accurately and no one worried about the words anyhow. The ones who cared just sang along.

Set two stepped the psychedelic dance vibe up a couple levels. “Triple Threat” and “King Hassan” re-broke the ice, while a deep medley ended things: The Doors’ “Break on Through” > “Below Radar” > Grateful Dead’s “The Other One” > “The Elevator”

“Break on Through” traveled into realms The Doors never found. Manzarek would be honored by Steve Molitz’s homage. “Below Radar’s” forceful drum (Darren Pujalet) and bass (Eric Gould) backline warmed up Pujalet to let loose during a colorfully lit and body moving drum solo. “The Other One” hit on time (14 minutes, and some change), Molitz’s organ techniques leaning on the Allman Brothers Band and the Grateful Dead, while the other three kept pretty close to source.

Like their set at All Good this year, they ended set two in Richmond with “The Elevator,” taking me back to that fog-headed 6AM in West VA, with a song quickly moving up my list of live favorites, by a band already high up on my list. Always a wise move, they encored with a song (“Keepers) made of the kind of sly and sassy funk that had everyone dancing down the treacherous steps from the second floor stage area and out the door, wanting a little more and ready to make the trip again, next time Particle stops by.

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