Perpetual Groove 11.15.12

Georgia Theatre
Athens, Georgia

Words & Photos By Scott Shrader (

Seeing a favorite live band play in their hometown always adds a special something to the show experience. Perpetual Groove at The Georgia Theater was no exception. The show was my first trip to The Georgia Theater and I don’t think I could have picked a better time to become introduced to the venue. Before the show I stuffed my face at Chicago-based restaurant, Al’s Beef, with quite possibly the largest beef sandwich I’ve ever had (much thanks to Shawn). After the pre-show feast, we headed over to the theatre around 8:00 p.m. As it was almost empty, we made our way to the rooftop bar to have some drinks and kill some time. The combination of giant propane heaters and the view of downtown Athens made the sky bar quite cozy. After exploring the different levels of the venue we made our way to some stools on the second level and waited for the opening band to get things rolling. The opener was Eddie & The Public Speakers, a trio out of Athens formed in 2008, but on this night a guest keyboardist and percussionist accompanied them.

As the band started to find their groove, the balconies began to fill up and soon the floor was filling in. The band rolled out a few jazzy lounge-sounding tunes to start things off. Eddie Speaker (bass) and Stephen Taylor (guitar) both hold down the vocal parts and do quite nice. Meanwhile, Nic Wiles delivers almost an infectious funkadelic beat that keeps your attention from the get-go. The group showcased their blues/funk side of things and did it with some force. Taylor delivered some impressive slide work during a heavier more progressive rock jam that had the crowd bobbing their heads up and down. The technical changes from one section to another really caught my ear and the band covers a wide spectrum of genres within one song. I’d recommend checking out these guys if they come to a town near you.

Perpetual Groove Live at Georgia Theatre on November 15, 2012.

Set One: MOTA > All My Friends > MOTA, Stealy Man, Paper Dolls, Robot Waltz, Sweet Oblivious Antidote*

Set Two: Mayday, Sympathy for the Devil, Cairo, Mr Transistor > Echo > Mr Transistor, Walking in Place

Encore: God's Gonna Cut You Down > Space Paranoids

Perpetual Groove came out on stage around 10:45 to an eager crowd ready for whatever was about to come at them. The band crept into an ambient build up that lead into the instrumental piece “MOTA,” which took off and then there was no looking back. The song soon made way for a clean segue into LCD Soundsystem’s “All My Friends,” which seemed very appropriate for the hometown setting. The cover was executed with great care and definitely had that “P-Groove” spin to it. By this time the floor was packed with dancing fans of all ages. After the dance party sing-a-long, the song found itself back into “MOTA” and built up the finale with a solid finish. Brock greeted the crowd with a hello and seemed very appreciative of the turnout. Albert got down to business with a short drum solo that landed into the opening beat of “Stealy Man”. One thing that has always turned me onto P-Groove’s music is how well they blend their jam style with lyrical songwriting; this song seemed to showcase that trait very well. “Paperdolls” is another one that demonstrates Brock’s catchy lyrical and guitar hooks that was well received by the crowd. The first big jam of the night came with “Robot Waltz” the jam took off from the start. The subtle melodic synth licks from Matt McDonald created a soundscape during the jam that almost took you away from it all. Butler's guitar work has become much more focused and patient in the past year and this jam proved that point. The music moved into dance party territory before falling back into the song’s main riff. After the song came back to earth, Brock introduced the first guest of the night, Scott Baston of Moonshine Still, for “Sweet Oblivious Antidote.” He mentioned that it had been over ten years since they recorded the song with Scott for the album and the song ended up closing out the first set with a bang.

The guys took a quick ten minute break and came back to the stage with a roaring version of “Mayday” that set the tone for the rest of the second set. The tune featured an old-timey sounding sample referencing a crash landing that made way for a rocking intro. Halfway through the song the band started to enter a darker kind of jam which contained more bass tones and dreamy sounding keys that took the audience for a ride to space and back. Michael Blair joined the band for the next cover of the night, Rolling Stone's "Sympathy for the Devil." They played an interesting version of the classic with a heavy twist to the chorus; it was a nice surprise and breather for what was ahead. "Cairo" was the next heavy hitter served to the audience with its ambient and dream like intro. Everyone seemed to be hypnotized by the melodic soundscape the band was producing between the high energy but patient solos from both Matt and Brock. The jam found a unique groove that eventually morphed into a tease of "Hold on" by Alabama Shakes that turned out to be a launch pad for the climax and ending of the song.

"Mr. Transistor>Echo>Mr. Transistor" was the final sandwich of the night and ended up being a personal highlight of the show. The combo delivered a technical side of the band I had yet to witness. A very powerful interaction from the band and the light show made a perfect backdrop to the magic sounds coming from the stage. The build up after "Echo" offered a stop-n-go like jam that was heavily jazz influenced and very focused on creating a cosmic like musical journey. The jam found itself back into the second half of "Mr. Transistor." Perpetual Groove reached a climatic peak of energy that left jaws on the floors and a roaring applause once that piece of music came to an end. The final song of the closing set featured Gary Paulo on saxophone. A stand out version of "Walking in Place" was served up to the Athens crowd for one last bang before the encore. The guys delivered quite the encore with Johnny Cash's "God’s Gonna Cut You Down," and a face-rocking "Space Paranoids".

I rarely leave shows nowadays convinced that it was the best I'd seen the band perform, but this night in Athens is a different story. This was the second to last show of their fall tour and happened to be Joel's (the band's unofficial taper) 299th show and the following Saturday night would be his 300th. The band will be playing Center Stage in Atlanta, GA for New Years Eve and two dates in Charleston, SC and Macon, GA a couple days before. Be sure to keep an eye out for upcoming dates for in the following months, they are delivering shows right now that you're not going to want to miss.

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