Particle | 11.29.07 | Milwaukee

Words by: Cal Roach

Particle :: 11.29.07 :: Miramar Theatre :: Milwaukee, WI

Darren Pujalet - Particle by Valerie Levinsohn
Over the course of seven years as a band, Particle has drifted in and out of the spotlight in a scene now brimming over with techno/jam band hybrids. The group's momentum seemed unstoppable until the less-than-amicable departure of guitarist Charlie Hitchcock in 2005. Since then, the group has burned through two more guitarists and exists now as a three-piece consisting of bassist Eric Gould, drummer Darren Pujalet and keyboardist Steve Molitz. For its winter tour, Particle enlisted guitarist Josh Clark of Tea Leaf Green to fill in for most dates, while a permanent lineup remains up in the air. As such, it should've come as no surprise that the tour-opener at the Miramar Theatre in Milwaukee was not an example of a tight, energetic show.

Opener Alpha Transit warmed up the crowd with a progressive jazz-funk-rock fusion that was a bit sloppy at times but also really drove forward during some grand improv sections. The group was low on stage presence but full of musicianship, and there was a clear camaraderie and powerful essence that elevated the music from low-budget jam to a real potential force. There was nothing particularly original here, but the success of modern prog bands like Umphrey's McGee in the jam community bodes well for a band like Alpha Transit.

Particle's set started off fairly strong with "Denmark," a decent representation of the band's sound - basic jam band territory with a dash of electronica. They built this first jam up to a nice peak before letting it dissolve. From there, the group was all over the place, and not in a good way. Disjointed and distracted, it was difficult to tell for most of the night if Pujalet was having trouble hearing the rest of the band or if he just couldn't keep up as he fell behind the beat more than once (most noticeably during set-closer "Sun Mar 11"). He seemed to have no interest in taking control, except to blatantly announce a change with a thrill-deflating snare run. It's understandable that, with a guest guitarist, intra-band communication will suffer, but for Particle, whose success relies wholly on building tension during extended jams, the risk of one person missing a change has got to be worth not killing the suspense entirely.

Steve Molitz - Particle by Valerie Levinsohn
The most interesting point during the night was the jam out of "Young Lust" that toyed with "Shakedown Street" for quite a while and got the crowd groovin'. But then it drifted out into space and even the ambience that transitioned into "One Of These Days" seemed out of synch and sloppy, and there was zero excitement built up at any point for a song with so much potential. TLG tune "Wet Spot" started off promising, but there seemed to be technical problems that sent the jam crashing into a random drum solo. The music got rolling again into a spooky, esoteric stretch only to be undermined by a typically prosaic drumbeat, leading to a truly anticlimactic ending. Part of what makes contemporaries like STS9 and The Disco Biscuits exciting is their respective drummers' abilities to simulate the insistent build of rave-style techno while creating interesting diversions the way only a human can. Pujalet displayed no dynamic and precious little diversity. Perhaps he was overcompensating for a band still shaking off cobwebs, perhaps the band is in the process of rethinking its musical direction entirely, but someone needs to step up and take the reins.

Clark is a talented player, and he provided some small excitement but never sustained anything long enough to really shine, and none of the other players showed any leadership whatsoever. By the encore, the light show overtook the music as the most impressive aspect of the performance. At this point, Particle is watching the pack pull away. At their best, they were a cohesive unit pulsing behind the energy and power of a dominant guitar player. Without that key element, the weaknesses of the rest of the band are clearly revealed. Hopefully the act will improve over the course of the tour, but it was a flat beginning.

JamBase | Wisconsin
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[Published on: 12/17/07]

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NickBoeka Mon 12/17/2007 11:36AM
+2 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


owch! This show really must have sucked....

minutes star Mon 12/17/2007 11:50AM
Show -11 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!
HOPEFULPHAN starstarstar Mon 12/17/2007 11:55AM
0 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

did anyone really think these shows would be that good?

HOPEFULPHAN starstarstar Mon 12/17/2007 11:57AM
+13 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

minutes, are you saying jambase shouldnt post honest reviews because a band you like might get called out???????

Revpnice starstarstarstar Mon 12/17/2007 12:01PM
+9 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


minutes, you make zero sense. If they sucked, they sucked and we should know about it.

gmoo Mon 12/17/2007 12:12PM
+7 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


This is a sad day for Particle fans. Darren is one helluva drummer, but I do believe the reviewer who saw this show, and this doesn't bode well for the band.

Chaloupka Mon 12/17/2007 12:33PM
+2 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


This doesn't surprise me one bit.

johnnygoff Mon 12/17/2007 12:34PM
+5 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


Wait a minute here! Not running a review because it was 'honest'??? What is this? The music-gustapo? This is jambase. Be glad "minutes" that they publish the real-deal reviews, for the next time you or me or any other music lover go to a show, that very band could be anticipating a review and play the hell out of a show. It's to our benefit that music reviews exist. If all were great, no band would feel the pressure of firing on all cylinders across the country. Lastly, after seeing Particle over 15 times from L.A. to Vegas and W.V. to N.Y. in a variety of their lineups, I have to say I really hope they hold it together. Darren took it pretty hard in this review and I also want to stick up for this cat. He may have fallen behind during this Milwaukee show, but I also find it very suspicious that this writer could not find absolutely any faults about the bigger names --- "molitz" and "clark"....just found this odd.

brwnben Mon 12/17/2007 12:35PM
0 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

That review sounds like every Particle show that I have ever been to. IMO, Particle shouldn't even be mentioned in the same breath as STS9 or tDB. And Minutes, not to jump on the pile but, that post makes absolutely no sense.

matthau Mon 12/17/2007 12:49PM
+1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

Ummmm Ben Combe rules !!!!!!! BCDS Rules !!!!!

chefdave Mon 12/17/2007 01:08PM
+1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

The guys in Particle are great guys and great players.I have played with them on a couple of occations,and Darren always brought it.Everyone has bad days ,Especially when your line up changes constantly.To the writer of the reveiew,you should try them out again.Everyone has a shitty show sometime.

willydog Mon 12/17/2007 01:34PM
Show -3 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!
okalrightic Mon 12/17/2007 01:42PM
-2 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

this sounds like every particle show i've seen. i thinks its time these guys call it quits. im really glad to see that jambase isnt afraid to put a negative review up. sorry particle, you lose.

Teabagger Mon 12/17/2007 02:07PM
+1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


I was at this show. I think everyone there should have expected some rust and some miscommunication as it was a tour opener with a guest guitarist. And let me say that yes, there were some low points. It wasn't a great show by any means, but it still had some very entertaining moments. Young lust > Shakedown > One of These Days was pretty sweet I thought. I'm not sure how the author can claim a lack of energy build up for this, as there was plenty where I was up in the front.

loveleigh Mon 12/17/2007 02:17PM
+1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

there is no such thing as the gustapo. it's gestapo.

echo tribe Mon 12/17/2007 02:27PM
+1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

partical died when charlie left. the july 4th latenite show at high sierra was one of the best shows i've ever seen. sad those days for particle are gone...

Zapzapa starstarstar Mon 12/17/2007 03:45PM
-2 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


it sounds like there whipping a dead horse. seen them like 10 times the best show i saw was with Phil Lesh the others were all about the same

bill15 starstarstarstar Mon 12/17/2007 04:48PM
-2 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

Alright, Jamtronica is a sound as bad as the term itself. I'm sorry to the kids who's ears hear it as something other then nails vrs chalkboard, perhaps I'm old and the wrong drugs are floating through my veins, tums instead of ecstasy, but music should be able to penetrate the soul with or without substances and I can't delve into bands mimicking music made by a machine. I credit the honesty of this article, I've seen several Particle shows and appreciated the musicianship, but found the tonality abrasive and a certain gimicky aspect to the constant sit ins and covers as if they were to cover up the root of the sound itself. The songwriting has never been there and that is essential for a jam based art form, good songs earn those vast seas of improvisation and epic peaks. However, the biggest reason for the comment is that it is refreshing to read an constructively critical article, I love this scene and to here a well written opinion that seems to come from a very attentive listener is very welcome. There was an article I read on here a while back about the mediocrity of P-funk's current state and as sad as it was to acknowledge that, it is absolute truth.

pokycheese starstarstarstar Mon 12/17/2007 08:34PM
+3 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


I really liked Particle when Ben was there (SF dec.29,06 was the heat!). Thanks for the honesty Jambase. Like chefdave said-everyone has an off show. I guess I'll just have to decide on the new Particle for myself post--> Yonder NYE.

doubleipa Mon 12/17/2007 09:59PM
0 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


Particle from 2001 and a few years on was an awesome show, possibly hitting a peak at the Midsummer Night's Jam underground in LA. Far better than an STS9 show I caught in Boston in 2003. I saw the last show Charlie Hitchcock played, and no coincidence haven't managed to catch them lately.

Bummer to hear they're not doing so well.

‹^› ‹(•¿•)› ‹^› {¬¿¬} starstarstarstarstar Tue 12/18/2007 04:01AM
+1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

‹^› ‹(•¿•)› ‹^›      {¬¿¬}

Hopefully the act will improve over the course of the tour, but it was a flat beginning.

U know this happened with Trey and 70 volt. It happens. the first 2-4 shows can really stink!!! I caught a later show of 70 volt and it was not as bad as my friend said when he went to the first show of the tour. I thought it was fantastic.. they had it together later in the tour.

next time review a later show of the tour and I bet the review will not be so negative. peace out.

crowesfan2 starstarstar Tue 12/18/2007 08:35AM
+1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


I am DEFINATELY NOT a particle fan by any means, but I understand that the first show with a new guitar player can be a very difficult thing. especially if there is limited rehearsal. Perhaps down the line on the tour it might be tighter. still bad but at least tighter.

every band has a rough night here and there.

manida Tue 12/18/2007 08:38AM
+3 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


A bad review doesnt mean that its not a review.

Who want to read just good reviews?

AZ~*Droo* starstarstarstarstar Tue 12/18/2007 09:50AM
+2 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


70 volt parade sucked!!! haha just kiddin (sorta). We need us some TAB!

gmoo Tue 12/18/2007 09:55AM
+6 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


bill15, music is about the rhythm's of life. If you don't like electronic jam, that's fine, but please don't say that it can't be soulful without substances. Not everyone who likes 'jamtronica' is a pillhead, much like how every head isn't spun 24/7.

boxofrain Tue 12/18/2007 10:16AM
+1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

People still listen to Particle???

johnnygoff Tue 12/18/2007 11:46AM
0 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


hey loveleigh,

after all I said, all you had for me was to play spelling/grammar police and correct my spelling of "gestapo"?


articgtp starstarstarstar Tue 12/18/2007 05:13PM
+1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


nope, this is confirmed. just played in dallas, and yes the whole band was off. darren ... well seemed out of place/ lost. not sure where any of their heads were and they did the same lust>shakedown that was horrible and went nowhere. i think they put the final nail in the coffin, nobody had to do it for them, they did it just fine by themselves.

freekfreely Tue 12/18/2007 05:39PM
+1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

I used to love Particle, the first time I saw them at Mt. Aire (2002?) I was completely blown away. They lost all of that when Charlie left and never fully got it back together.


moejoerisin Tue 12/18/2007 07:59PM
0 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


yea there's lots of great electronic music with plenty of soul with or without substances... aphex twin, prefuse 73, rjd2, and scores of others have tons more soul than most of today's commercial "r & b / soul" music.

moejoerisin Tue 12/18/2007 08:00PM
0 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


...or any other music, for that matter

Zapzapa Wed 12/19/2007 12:53PM
+2 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!



n-1 Thu 12/20/2007 04:34PM
0 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

the windjammer guitar solo is one of the best guitar solos of all time, i dont know the reasons for that guitar player leaving but i agree with the writer in that it was a major loss. i always felt the rest of the band was kind of mediocre, but oh well.

n-1 Thu 12/20/2007 04:35PM
+2 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

well any transfusion drummer has to be sick

n-1 Thu 12/20/2007 05:12PM
0 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

firing charlie=worst mistake they could have made for their sound, one of the best jazz guitarists in the business

pornofunk starstarstarstarstar Thu 12/20/2007 05:48PM
+1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


it's fuckin milwaukee......shit if i had to go their i would be up to par either...

DesignVHL Fri 12/21/2007 07:00AM
+2 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


I was at this show. They were having tech problems all night - which was the venue's fault, not the bands. The POWER went out THREE times - including during Denmark - the first song. There were some frustrations there, but I think they did a great job playing through all that. I've heard other shows this tour that I enjoyed listening to - of course music IS subjective, but I've always enjoyed Particle. They warmed up since this first show of the tour. May not of been their best show, but it was a lot of fun, the crowd was into it, and the energy was there.

n-1 Sun 12/23/2007 05:39AM
0 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

Milwaukee is actually a really hip city as is Madison, im from NYC and i can say that there are a hell of alot of heads there and it is a cornerstone of the jamband tour circuit, important towns to play well.

vwphan star Tue 12/25/2007 01:24PM
0 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

I'm all for reporting the GOOD/BAD/and UGLY but reviewing a show in MILWUAKEE that is the leadoff of a tour with a fill-in guitarist that hadn't even been able to rehearse with them is a bit of a cheap-shot in my opinion. LIke design VHL said, they had tech problems all night. For any of you that are musicians you can understand how utterly frustrating this can be. Particle is not my favorite band, but I still respect their music and have seen how available they make themselves to their fans. Something most bands that have "made it" do not do. Just food for thought.

moogot2 Wed 12/26/2007 09:11PM
-1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

i saw this review coming the very day charlie was fired....good job boys....its kinda like if grateful dead fired jerry, phish fired trey, or sound tribe fired cant fire your driving force and expect things to still be the same.....when charlie was fired they should have changed the name...he was the energy behind the band

chinacatsunflower1989 starstarstarstar Thu 12/27/2007 10:25AM
+1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


Particle can make a crowd move like no other group; sober or not, youre going to dance at a Particle show. But judging by the sound theyre making, they have gotta get going with choosing a new permanent guitarist who really clicks with the rest of the band. Hurry up particle, i LOVE groovin' FACE at your shows!!

phishmann starstarstar Thu 12/27/2007 10:47AM
+1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


some bands in this scene need to get their shit together. all these thrown together bands(while some are great) are usually short on songs and a pro.don't insult us,all we ask is be well rehearsed no excuses!!!

dougsnugs starstar Fri 12/28/2007 03:35PM
+1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

i saw em in columbia, mo with josh clark and while ts sad to see their past guitarist leave they must have gotten alot better

The Glick star Mon 12/31/2007 09:12AM
+1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

The Glick

Saturday's show at the Great American Music Hall in SF was fantastic. Darren and the rest of the guys sounded really good. I'm glad someone has the balls to play the Doors!!!!!!

bigchris starstarstarstar Thu 1/3/2008 12:07AM
0 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

That show at the GAMH last Sat. was great. Robbie Krieger can still bring it, big time. That guy Andy did a nice job as the Lizard King. The band did an admirable job channeling the Doors, the crowd ate it up! Rippin' "Peace Frog", "LA Woman" and "the end" fun night of great tunes.

The opening act "Shadow Sessions" was killer too, did the DJ Shadow's 'Entroducing' spot on for the most part. Very sexy buxom singer too, who could belt it out. Hope they come back to SF soon.