Words & Images by: Jesse Borrell
Particle :: 10.09.08 :: Fox Theatre :: Boulder, CO
Let me just put something out there. To all those listeners who may have lost faith along the way (including me at times), Particle still rocks. Hard. As I journeyed towards Boulder's Fox Theatre, passing by the hippie vendors and odd tour head, I wondered how the core spirit of the band held throughout the past couple years with the revolving cast of guitarists and keyboardist Steve Molitz's high-profile gig with Phil Lesh & Friends. Any doubts were quickly washed away with the help of Colorado's own Michael Kang, who helped Particle throw down for their Boulder brethren with the same spirit they possessed as up-and-coming L.A. electronica rockers eight years ago.
To start off the night, U-Melt took the stage and was a perfect introduction into what understandably turned into an electronica-heavy evening. "Elysian Fields," led by George Miller's intense drumming, marked the band's first foray into long, triumphant experimentation and featured Billy Joel's classic "Pressure" sandwiched inside. Performing second, The Breakfast started their set off brooding with the heavy guitar licks and deep drumming of "Wake Up In A Coma." A combination of slow, purposeful drum and bass hooks showed composure to a song that could have easily gotten ahead of itself or add too many layers too fast. Seeing an opportunity, guitarist Tim Palmieri patiently advanced higher up his Fender's fretboard as a hint of dub reggae crashed into psychedelic blues.
Heading outside to get some cool mountain air, a whole other world was moving about as the late night crew was just arriving. Rumors of sighting "this artist" or "that artist" floated about, but to many "the man with the electric mandolin" sufficed. There was no doubt that tonight's show would be great with the addition of The String Cheese Incident's Kang, but I wondered who would take his place further down life's line. In a post show interview, Steve Molitz discussed for all of the Particle People just how these transitions have shaped Particle's core trio.
"I think what's gotten the three of us through all the transitions is the fact that we've always approached the music - and the process of the music - with a lot of passion, dedication, and excitement," said Molitz. "Particle started with just me, Eric [Gould, bass] and Darren [Pujalet, drums] jamming and writing songs together in 2000, and we're still just as thrilled today as we were back then to be playing this music."
|Kang & Gould :: 10.09 :: Boulder, CO|
Piling back indoors, the air instantly heated and condensed as the simple spirit of music took hold of those willing to embrace it. The boys of Particle plus Kang began their set by pulling the crowd closer with a swirl of textural overtones natural to any Particle introduction. As the familiar licks of "Launchpad" began, it became immediately apparent that these guys love what they do, often seen in the characteristic up and down head nod by Gould or a persistent, wondrous stare from Molitz. It was this consistent level of enthusiasm that got me into the band in the first place, and from the look of those around me it was infectious to all once again.
Particle has always been really good at adapting their style to any type of music. "W" journeyed from full-fledged electronic rock to Floyd-esque space and then towards Parliament funk at the drop of a dime. Exploring the open thematic structure, it was Molitz's keys that transitioned the group deep into a funk-trance version of the Dead's "Shakedown Street" to the surprise of the crowd, who cheerfully sang the familiar lyrics along with Kang.
There is something about Particle's unbound song structure that produces amazing rock music. Pujalet's relentless drumming during "Triple Threat" and "7th Gear" demonstrated this relationship perfectly as he led the band's pace towards one of Particle's many effortless peaks. Featuring a playful back and forth between Pujalet's drum hits and Molitz synth-tabla-effected keyboard strokes, all four musicians soared in styles reminiscent of Hydra (Particle's collaboration with Mickey Hart) and of Kang's own String Cheese Incident.
|Michael Kang (with Particle) :: 10.09 :: Boulder, CO|
The beginning theme for "The Elevator" is hinged upon a repetitive series of guitar notes - in this case transposed to an electric mandolin. Going through the motions with sitar-like effects, Kang exemplified the definition of a quick read by more than adequately filling in the void where various guitarists have been before. Molitz and Kang musically danced around each other's notes, teasing in and out of themes that sent the song well past thirteen-minutes as their set came towards an end.
Playing over 1,000 shows over the course of eight years says a lot for the level of Particle's commitment to both their music and their fans. With the help of supporting acts The Breakfast and U-Melt, bands that have also experienced lineup changes over the years, Particle celebrated their eighth year as a band proven ever determined to evolve, even during the most transitory of times.
"It seems that change is our only constant. I'll tell you this, whether it's in Particle or another project, I would gladly play with Charlie [Hitchcock], Ben [Combe] and Scott [Metzger] again at some point in the future," said Molitz. "They're all great guys, and great players. In the meantime, Eric, Darren and I are all really excited by the idea that Particle's future is such a wide open canvas."
Escape, Elysian Fields > Pressure > Elysian Fields > Clear Light
The Breakfast setlist
Wake Up In A Coma > Over Exposure, Buquebus, Metropolis (w/ Molitz)
Launchpad, Silver Lining, W > Shakedown Street* > Triple Threat > 7th Gear, The Elevator
Encore: Truth Don Die > Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger^
* First Time Played (Grateful Dead)
^ First Time Played (Daft Punk)
U-Melt The Fox Theatre- Boulder, CO 10/9/2008 Elysian Fields>Pressure from Coloartist on Vimeo
The Breakfast, The Fox Theatre 10-09-2008 "Metropolis" from Coloartist on Vimeo
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