Perpetual Groove | 12.30 & 12.31 | GA

Words & Images by: James E. F. Young

Perpetual Groove :: 12.30.08 & 12.31.08 :: Georgia Theatre :: Athens, GA

Perpetual Groove :: 12.31 :: Athens, GA
New Year's Eve offers a time to reflect on the past year while building resolve towards the future. For the members of Perpetual Groove this process is particularly poignant. Over the past year the band has undergone an incredible change. The departure of keyboardist Matt McDonald after the band's ninth annual Amberland festival (read the review here), left Perps (members of the PGroove community) shocked and understandably nervous. While the addition of John Hruby, a friend and frequent guest to the stage, helped ease some fears, the apprehension and palpable tension was noticeable during the fall "Thunder Construction" tour. For both band and fans, the two nights of this New Year's run served not only as closure to these turbulent events but also solidified the announcement of a new, powerful force in the musical community.

December 30, 2008

The first night at the Georgia Theatre started with a surprising treat. Drummer Albert Suttle opened up the evening with a solo set. Since his first solo endeavor two years ago, the one-man act has grown tremendously. He samples songs and lays down his own funky brand of beat, often interlaced with humorous and appropriate movie quotes. His versions of "Beyond the Veil" and Skee-Lo's "I Wish" were obviously satisfying as the listeners were crammed against the stage hoping to get closer to his spectacular performance.

Butler & D. Perry :: 12.30 :: Athens, GA
Following the opening act, Perpetual Groove took the stage and without pause brought the heat straight from the deepest pits of hell. "Tu Sevun" is fantastic in any set, but as a show opener it floored the crowd. They followed this rare occurrence with a fantastic rendition of one of their newer pieces, "Witness to the Rest," a number that exemplifies Hruby's skills as both a singer and keyboardist. If there was ever any doubt of his ability to keep up with the band's driven electronic rock, it was dispelled by set closer "Mr. Transistor."

For the second set, the band invited a few familiar guests to the stage. Early on, Gary Paulo from Under the Porch joined them on saxophone. He sat in for "Up Tight" and "Sweet Oblivious Antidote" before Damien Perry took the stage. Bassist Adam Perry's brother, Damien is a guitarist with obvious roots in heavy metal and he started off with a driven "Can't You Hear Me Knocking," which, for all of you stat junkies, hadn't been played for four years to the date. The Perry brothers form an impressive and intimidating force as made evident in their rendition of "Mayday," a song that has continued to impress for the last two years. The four-piece then finished with overindulgent renditions of "TTFPJ" and "Playground."

12.30.08 :: Georgia Theatre :: Athens, GA
Set I: Tu Sevun, Witness to the Rest > All This Everything, pt. 2, TSMM, Stealy Man, Out Here, Mr. Transistor
Set II: Gorilla Monsoon, Uptight (Everything's Alright)*, Sweet Oblivious Antidote*, Can't You Hear Me Knocking**, Mayday***, TTFPJ, Playground
Encore: Lost Connection

*with Gary Paulo from Under the Porch on sax
**with Gary Paulo from Under the Porch on sax and Damien Perry from Red Giant on guitar
***with Damien Perry from Red Giant on guitar

December 31, 2008

To open up the second night, guitarist Brock Butler performed a special set. He started off solo, playing both familiar songs and a few from his new album, Instrumentals & Incident. Travis Cline soon joined him on drums for a particularly moving version of "Ain't No Reason." To complete the set, they were accompanied by Michael Blair on guitar and Ayinde Bryant on bass for a new number and a fantastic version of Neil Young's "Helpless."

Perpetual Groove :: 12.31 :: Athens, GA
The main performance was nothing short of spectacular, one for the annals of Perpetual Groove history books. The house lights went down and the crowd started cheering as the staged glowed a piercing purple. Across the PA came an uplifting song, like the hero's theme from a spaghetti western. As the crowd roared and the building trembled, the band took the stage, ready to deliver us into the New Year. The place was packed, with crowds surrounding the stage and filling the balcony as lines wrapped around both the bar and restrooms. The show had begun.

The first set was brief but powerful. After a short "No Decorations," the band plowed into a cover of LCD Soundsystem's "All My Friends." This song has been heavy in the rotation since Hruby joined the band, and again his performance on keys was an integral part of this commanding song. The camaraderie amongst the Perpetual Groove community has always separated this band from others, and this much was apparent as friends jumped around and sang, "I can see all my friends tonight!" After a fiery "Space Paranoids," the band meandered into an expansive "Three Weeks," and while most everyone is familiar with this number it is nice to see the band continue to find new ways to play their most popular song. They ended the set with "At the Screen," a funky song Hruby brought in from his previous band, Guest, with impressive vocals between him and Butler, as well as a number of drum driven interludes from Suttle.

Brock Butler :: 12.31 :: Athens, GA
The break was short, for the hour was approaching. To ring in the New Year, the band chose to play "Robot Waltz," a song that had been dormant since McDonald left. Nicely, the former keyboardist was in attendance this evening, and many were glad to see him still connected with the community, evidenced by the swirling crowd around him. The moment got closer and closer and with a minute left the band played a recording of the Apollo 11 launch over the PA. The countdown proceeded and the crowd erupted as confetti and balloons created a thick, impenetrable fog around the stage, and after the obligatory "Auld Lang Syne" the band snapped back into "Robot Waltz" with devilish fervor.

To the audiences' delight Damien Perry returned to the stage for a shredded version of "Speed Queen," which was sandwiched around a fantastic cover of Rush's "Tom Sawyer." To fully grasp how awesome the interplay between the Perry brothers can be, it is necessary to listen to the archive recording of this show.

As things were getting awfully intense, the band played a relaxed and inspiring rendition of "The Noise." Then, they broke into a lengthy "Teakwood Betz" with a "Macumba" wedged into it. "Macumba" is a fan favorite and included an extended rap medley from Butler with excerpts from Jay-Z's "99 Problems," Big Daddy Kane's "Let Yourself Go" and the Beastie Boy's "Pass the Mic," to name a few. For the first encore, PGroove debuted a cover of Bowie's "Fame," but one encore was nowhere near enough and the band returned for "It Starts Where It Ends," a well received song from the new album.

Although the past year has been a tumultuous one for this band, these shows serve to remind us that change, while frightening, is often good. This new Perpetual Groove is most certainly welcome in the New Year, and will be a formidable force in the jam band community.

12.31.08 :: Georgia Theatre :: Athens, GA
Set I: No Decorations, All My Friends, Space Paranoids, Three Weeks, At the Screen
Set II: Robot Waltz, Speed Queen*> Tom Sawyer*> Speed Queen*, Teakwood Betz> Macumba> Teakwood Betz
Encore: Fame*, It Starts Where It Ends

*with Damien Perry of Red Giant on guitar

Continue reading for more pics of Perpetual Groove...

December 30, 2008

December 31, 2008

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phishspread-aholic Mon 1/12/2009 08:04PM
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really good review. i love robot waltz, what a great song to go into the new year with. i cant believe they havent been playing it. i saw them last new years in charlotte, similar setlists. awesome setlists. glad to hear they are doing alright.

pornofunk starstarstarstarstar Mon 1/12/2009 08:10PM
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underated, butler is the man, very talented, looked like fun

GOD I LOVE NEWYEARS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

bigworld Mon 1/12/2009 08:39PM
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i LOVE me some pgroove. Cant wait to get that northeast lovin this spring!!

ClaysTribe Mon 1/12/2009 08:40PM
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looks like fun, no?

tourfan starstarstarstarstar Mon 1/12/2009 08:45PM
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Jimmy, thanks for sharing the love. I've been out of the PGroove loop for a short while. But man this review certainly was a great refresher. Love to see Sir Daddy Brock Buster. And you couldn't be more right about the Perry Bros. Everybody who can ought to dl this show. I will. And yea, Big world, not that I am back in the Northeast from the Southeast, I can wait for this years tour. Hope they land some more dates up here. Nice review. Even better pics. Thanks ya'll. PGroove in '09.

pornofunk starstarstarstarstar Mon 1/12/2009 08:53PM
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damn i guess in that one pick we found those "hot girls" that apparently DID NOT attend the biscuits NYE show

youngphan starstarstarstarstar Mon 1/12/2009 09:37PM
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I havent checked these guys out too thoroughly yet from what i have it has been pretty good but after this review and those fantastic pictures i don't think i can help myself from getting more familiar with these guys any suggestions? just go see em live or what

piklhed starstarstarstar Mon 1/12/2009 10:06PM
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youngphan, if you can catch a live show, that is my recommendation. if not, these two shows are good representation of what they are doing now.

tgratefulapple Mon 1/12/2009 10:16PM
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the new years second set was the shit. the speed queen >tom sawyer>speed queen and robot waltz was the highlight of the night for me.robot was great w/ matt on it and has always been his song but hurby took it to another level on new years. the first couple of times I saw em w/ hurby wasnt that good but on this night they where great and seem to be coming into their own again. if u havent seen them live, do your self a favor and check them out

tgratefulapple Mon 1/12/2009 10:19PM
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Flat5 Tue 1/13/2009 12:28AM
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dude, im gonna start going to PGroove show to pick up chicks! thats the only reason i go to shows anyways, pick up some hot tail.

Flat5 Tue 1/13/2009 12:29AM
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please dont get mas at me for saying that, i was just kidding. but hey great pics! i gotta chck these guys out!

Flat5 Tue 1/13/2009 12:29AM
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URTH2URTH starstarstarstar Tue 1/13/2009 04:24AM
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i loved hruby when he was in GUEST, anxious to see him with PGroove. does he sing now in pgroove too? he has a ton of his own songs. wondering if pgroove is playing them.

Triggin starstarstarstarstar Tue 1/13/2009 05:49AM
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great review, great pics, and a fukin GREAT BAND! love love love these guys! they have never disapointed, and Im glad glad glad they are getting some well deserved recognition! only wish i could of made it to the show!

Conjugal Burning starstarstarstarstar Tue 1/13/2009 09:30AM
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Conjugal Burning

mad props for the Tom Sawyer jam

TheBlackMamba starstarstarstarstar Tue 1/13/2009 12:46PM
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One of those "Hot" girls is Hruby's wife, fyi. Listen to this show on Archive, it is hot hot hot, listen for the vocals on Tom Sawyer, Hruby does a mean Geddy Lee

buckeyedye Tue 1/13/2009 02:51PM
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fourth pic from the bottom is entitled "brock goes bisco"

Matt.Recchia Tue 1/13/2009 04:25PM
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great review man, those shows were amazing, can't wait for some more Hruby Waltz's...

redredwine starstarstarstarstar Wed 1/14/2009 09:25AM
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Absolutely incredible NYE run. PGroove is really starting to 'get it' with Hruby. If for whatever reason you haven't given these guys a yourself a favor and DO IT.

GeorgieP Wed 1/14/2009 12:17PM
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Love love love the PGroove. I saw them in Brooklyn a few blocks from my apartment last year and they ripped. Can't wait to see them throw down again at Bowery Ballroom in March. I just downloaded this show off Tom Sawyer cover = insanity

funkis starstarstarstarstar Sun 1/18/2009 08:13AM
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looks awesome wish i could have been there! Fuck ya Hruby great to see you out there playin and lovin every min. of it!

budshaver7 star Sun 3/29/2009 08:55PM
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These guys suck.

The longer they tour the road, the worse they get.

They may manage to pull of a good gig on special dates, but their drug use and extensive touring is killing them.

What a fluffed review.