Words by: David Shehi | Images by: Brad Kuntz
Amberland 2009 :: 05.22.09 - 05.24.09 :: Cherokee Farms :: La Fayette, GA
Amberland is like Olive Garden - when you are there, you are family. Amberland is not a festival. There is no shakedown. It is a self-described "ice cream social," where fans of Perpetual Groove flock to Cherokee Farms in La Fayette, GA each Memorial Day weekend to bask in the glory of the band they have come to know, but from which they never know what to expect. It is a time to relax and enjoy uniting with friends you may have never known you had with some grand music to accompany the vibe. Each year Perpetual Groove is able to do what few bands have ever achieved - attract fans to a remote location that are in search of nothing more than their sound. They do so with unique ideas, an encompassing atmosphere and enough music to quench the thirst of even the most parched soul. This year was no exception, as Perpetual Groove left those in attendance grinning in sync, writhing in dance, relaxing in trance and reeling in good times.
The event begins receiving guests on Friday afternoon. The vast empty fields slowly become filled with cars, buses, tents and the occasional RV. The Amberland dynamic begins almost immediately as you are greeted with Southern hospitality, smiles and welcoming warmness on staff faces. There are no car searches. One does not feel like they are entering a place of top secret clearance, which has become an all too frequent feeling when entering many similar events. When finally picking one of the many impeccable camping locations, there is a feeling of simple bliss and one knows that his troubles have been left behind for at least the next few days. The familiar smells of grills and the sight of frequent hugs abound. There is a heavenly and indescribable feeling of equality at this event in contrast to the "us and them" mentality common in society at large and unfortunately, the vast amount of the music scene of today.
Friday :: 05.22.09
This year, Perpetual Groove ivory tickler John Hruby kicked things off with his former band, Guest, who wowed the amped crowed as they twisted and turned through an array of original material and strategically placed covers, where Hruby maintained the typical dose of inside joke hilarity that Perps have come to know and love. This marked Hruby's inception into the annals of Amberland and he would prove himself worthy of the crown throughout the weekend.
Friday: Silent Headphone Event Debut of New Album
Following Guest's sets, headphones were distributed to the crowd at about 1:30 a.m. and PGroove guitarist-vocalist Brock Butler made his first official Amberland 2009 appearance alongside Hruby to introduce the band's yet-untitled forthcoming album. From the stage, Butler proclaimed his pride in the album and commented that it represents the "closest album yet to match the music that he hears in his head." Following his introduction, Butler put on a pair of headphones and humbly stepped down from the stage. He took a spot in the audience with his bandmates – drummer Albert Suttle, bassist Adam Perry and keyboardist John Hruby - to observe the audience's initial response to the recording. The experience was amazing. Taking my headphones off briefly, I was greeted by the a cappella sounds of the intensely pleased and committed crowd singing along to every lyric as they feverishly danced to what (without headphones) was a non-existent sound. In an effort to not be a spoiler, I hesitate to give a track listing but I will go as far as to say that this album is an emotional roller coaster. It is passionately lyrical and driven by a selfless group of musicians, where none takes a dominant role. When asked to comment about the experience of watching people listening to their album for the first time, Butler termed the experience as "reassuring," Perry as "unbelievable," Hruby as "emotional" and Suttle simply said it was "cool." I concur.
|Perpetual Groove :: Amberland 2009|
Continue reading for Saturday coverage of Amberland...