Perpetual Groove & Ghost Owl 4.5.13
Words By Scott Shrader
Photos By Lance Bryant
Perpetual Groove Live at Georgia Theatre on April 5, 2013.
Indefinite Hiatus: two words that any music fan dreads to hear from their favorite band. Unfortunately, Perpetual Groove announced their rift earlier this year by releasing two press statement’s; one from Brock Butler and the other from the remaining members of the band (Adam Perry, Matthew McDonald, and Albert Suttle) announcing that the band would officially go on hiatus April 6, 2013. As one story ends, another begins. The three remaining members will begin touring under the name “Ghost Owl” and will be experimenting with a new sound and visual stage presence this Spring. Brock will be focusing on his health and taking some time off from extensive tour life. Don’t fear, the guitar wizard will still be touring solo later this Spring and has no plans to stop playing music anytime soon. To those who know Brock personally, this announcement may have not been a surprise. His announcement to the fans was truly sincere and he even gave an apology to those he has let down over the years. The man has one mission; to become happy and healthy.
The band continued on with their previously scheduled Winter tour and made their rounds to some of their favorite towns and venues that they've played in the past 12 years. Making stops in CO, FL, TN, GA, MS, AR, NC, and even headlining at Aura Music Festival for a special two show appearance. The band announced their final 4 shows would be Knoxville, Nashville, and two Athens shows; one being an intimate acoustic show the night before the final show at The Georgia Theater. I was fortunate enough to catch the Asheville and Knoxville shows before the final stand in Athens. The Asheville and Knoxville shows were no doubt the best playing I’ve witnessed from the band in my 7 or so years of seeing them. Even those shows could not prepare me for what was in store for the last at the Georgia Theater.
The three piece has been writing songs since early January and seemed to be excited and prepared to show off their new project to the sold out Georgia Theater crowd. Albert holds down the drums of course while Perry and McDonald are both surrounded by various electronic setups consisting of samplers, keyboards and laptops but both also play guitars while sharing vocal duties. The band’s experimental dance sound has a fresh spin while still not straying far from their roots. The grooves were sometime similar to a “pgroove jam” but still different at the same time. Matt’s guitar playing was on point and was a treat to see him behind the guitar the whole night. The band focuses more on structured songs than creating jams and swapping impromptu solos. I was intrigued by the visual aspect of the show; which was a half dozen or more screens projecting psychedelic visuals that were synced up with the music. Overall, the set was fair. While they had great production for their first show, the project definitely needs experience on the road to grow.
The time had finally come and anticipation hung thick in the air as everyone waited for the house lights to go down. The band soon hit the stage and before launching into their last show they were presented a plaque from The Georgia Theater. A token of the venue’s appreciation for all the years of music from the band. In the 12 years of the band playing the theater they played a total of 68 shows, 44 of which were sold out. 55,256 tickets sold and a whopping 12,930 minutes of music was played. The band was also thanked for the several donations they gave to the Georgia theater over the years for different repairs and renovations. It was obvious that no other band holds a place in the Georgia Theater quite like Perpetual Groove does.
The band kicked things off with a pleasing “Crowded Tub,” a song that started the night off on the right funky kinda note. The laid-back riffs of “Tub” gave everyone a chance to find their dancing shoes for the night and get comfortable. The band soon landed themselves into a hip-shaking version of “La Casa Bien” which was led by Adam Perry with his contagious bass lines. All four members took a little time to lock into each other as they carried through the jam but soon found their places. About this time it was apparent that the Georgia Theater was sold out and that every person was here to celebrate and enjoy one more rock and roll show from their favorite band. Albert began the intro to “Stealy Man” while Brock stepped up to the mic to address the audience; “Is everybody having a good time, are you enjoying yourselves? That’s how it’s always been, that’s been the main thing.” The crowd responded with a roaring cheer as everyone in the room knew that this truly was the case and had always been. The band began to hammer through “Stealy Man” and showed no mercy. Brock shredded each note with persistence and executed them with ease. Soon enough the vibe had turned from a grooving dance party to a full on head rocking extravaganza. If I’m not mistaken Brock even threw in an “Estranged” tease by G&R during the heavier jam.
The band brought out Gary Paulo for an intimate and touching “Walking in Place” to cool things down. The audience sang in unison with Brock for most every word and typically I am not the biggest fan of “sing-alongs” but the this was an exception and it made the song that much more special hearing a sold out room sing along at the top of their lungs. During the slower breakdown of the song, Brock addressed the crowd once more with a sincere message telling everyone how much their support has meant to him over the years and how much it’s appreciated.
After the soothing sounds of "Walking in Place" the crowd was served up a thrashing but heavy hitting version of "Speed Queen" that had every fist pumping and every head rocking in the building. The jam put an exclamation point on a solid first set and left the crowd wondering what possibly could be next.
Before launching into the last half of the show, the band proceeded to thank everyone from their crew to the crowd and even those who aren't with us anymore. Brock made it very clear how much they have appreciated the support over the years and then opened up with my personal favorite "Cairo." The places I've seen the band take this song never ceases to amaze me and this version was no different. Busting out of the gates from the start, Brock weaved in and out of the ambient tones laid down by Matt. His notes seemed to ring louder than ever and his playing definitely hit home. The combination created a trance induced jam that turned into a roller coaster ride but never stopped roaring down the tracks until the band hit its peak before bringing the song back to earth.
The opening notes of "Robot Waltz" were welcomed with a roaring applause and signaled that the band was putting it all out there for this last set. The band executed the piece with top notch playing and were honed into one another from the start. By this time the song really began to shine and each member seemed to take the spotlight for different sections before bringing the tune to its ending stanza. "Paper Dolls" offered a breather session for the crowd but was still a stellar version. It's been a pleasure seeing this song grow into what it's become. The jam seems to evolve from every version I’ve heard but this definitely showcased how much the songs grown. "Man With All The Answers" brought the energy back up with its infectious dark riff and hard rocking chorus. The crowd ate this one up and it almost felt as if the Georgia Theater was shaking along with the song.
With the rumor of "no repeats" for the final four shows floating around, it was a nice surprise when Adam dropped into the opening bass line of "Teakwood Betz". It was great to see the guys smiling while watching the crowd enjoy themselves one last time. Soon the music found its way to an epic tapping solo by Brock that left minds blown and jaws on the ground. The crater that was left in everyone's skull was soon filled by the heavenly intro of "Three Weeks," a Pgroove staple that really hit an emotional spot for everyone. Especially once Brock sang the line "I gave all I had then they showed me the door" while a single spotlight shined on him during the line. A moment that is sure to stand out in fan’s memories for years to come. The jam soon took off of the ground and achieved lift off while reminding every fan why this band has meant so much to them over the years. From creating new friendships to adventures that may have never happened without the band; this wasn't just a last show, it was a celebration of an era. The band ended the piece on a rocking high note and left the stage.
Albert came out by himself for the encore and kicked off the intro into “Two Shores” with a rock solid beat. The rest of the band soon followed and joined in with Suttle for what would be their last encore. The lyrics seemed to really hit everyone in an emotional way as the entire building was singing along with Brock for the chorus. By this point it didn't matter if the band completely missed a section or flubbed a song, it was all about enjoying this last moment with the band, friends, and family. The triple song encore was almost predictable but there’s no other way I could have asked for the show to end. LCD Soundsystem’s “All My Friends” started up the second half of the encore with the audience clapping in unison and belting every line with a fiery passion. Most everyone was there saying goodbye to old friends while enjoying themselves one last time with the band that brought them all together. Even if this wasn't the band’s greatest performance, it’ll sure go down as one last gathering of friends to celebrate the four guys that brought everyone so many memories and music over the past 12 years. “Sweet Oblivious Antidote” was chosen as the last song of the encore and I don’t think anyone in the room would have disagreed with a better note to end it all on. Brock delivered one last solo that seemed to tug at everyones heartstrings, meanwhile emotions swept over the crowd. It was truly a beautiful ending for a last show. I’m confident to say this was a night that I will remember forever and I’m positive that I’m not the only one who agrees. For now there’s no future for P-Groove but there’s no doubt if the band was to ever return, there would be a sold out crowd waiting for them at The Georgia Theater. Thank you Brock, Adam, Matt, and Albert for all the music and memories over all these years.