Perpetual Groove | House of Blues | Cambridge, MA | 4.20.03
My list of things I would drive 18 hours for just got a little longer. I’d do it to see the birth of my child, to pick up my winning lottery ticket, and now to see Perpetual Groove at the original House of Blues in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
The idea hit my friend and I around 12:30 Friday night, and before I knew it we were picking out groceries and getting the cooler ready. You see, Perpetual Groove is just one of those things where you can put your life on hold for a day, ask the boss man for some time off, and hit the road running.
Having watched the band's evolution from a Savannah, GA bar band to a powerful machine of music capable of transforming the ordinary into the extraordinary, I knew the lengthy drive from Charleston, SC to Boston was only a minor obstacle for what was awaiting me. Some have described the music as “comforting” or a truly Sweet Oblivious Antidote for whatever ails you. I see now why their debut CD is so aptly named.
You see, whatever life has in store for you; whether it be lifting you up or chewing you up and spitting you back out; the music of Perpetual Groove lets you know that you’re not standing still as life races to pass you by. While “comforting” might be a good adjective for some, what I find is that the music is infectious, like some sweet addiction that leaves you gasping for more – the type of addiction you’d drive 18 hours to get your fix on. A week prior to this show, a friend and I were driving home from a business trip to Orlando. My friend reclined back in his seat for the seven-hour drive. Thinking he was asleep, I slipped in some Pgroove from a January show in Atlanta. As the last song wound down, he suddenly sat up in his seat and proclaimed it to be the best CD he had ever heard. He had been awake the entire time and was simply transfixed on the sound coming through the car speakers. The trip quickly turned into a Pgroove marathon and seven hours later, unbeknownst to me, the seeds were firmly planted for a spur of the moment trip to Boston to see them live.
Out of the gates came “Space Paranoids.” The boys just walked out on stage and dropped it on the Bostonians as if they were already in the middle of a raging two-hour set. Must have been the history of the place smiling down on them. Then came “AIM,” a newer tune that has really found its way and was nearly the highlight of the night. Breathless movement, dead on lighting changes, and the sweet familiar vocals of Brock Butler reaching out and putting their arm around your shoulders like a long lost friend. Then came “MOTA,” a holdover from the early days with its swirling change, fantastic layered loops, and a true collective effort gem. It’s a tune that leaves you standing there wondering what to lock into – is it the bass lines of Adam Perry allowing you to swallow every change, or the drumming of Albert Suttle that hooks you into the roundtable of constant creation and experimentation, or the layer upon layer of keys set forth by Matt McDonald, or the looping and melodic tunes of Brock Butler whose guitar seems to be an extension of his arm? Before you know it, ten minutes have gone by and you finally realize that it is an entire wall of sound, your feet have been moving unconsciously, and something truly special is happening right before your eyes.
“MOTA” drops into “TTFPJ,” or “Tribute to Freddy Prince Jr.,” always good for a silly laugh including the “your so sensitive” chorus. New to this song was Butler’s addition of “I’m Zimbabwe Man” which had me smiling and laughing. It being 4.20, we were blessed to be privy to a Brock Butler rap of “Paul Revere” and “Samson.” While “Paul Revere” was fitting considering the location of the venue, “Samson” takes on a whole life of its own in the hands of Butler. I was surprised to see so many were familiar with the song. Without skipping a beat, it was back into “TTFPJ” and then the finale that is “Crowded Tub.” “Tub” is another holdover from the early days, and if I were to be forced to pick a single song that represented Pgroove for someone that had never heard of its music, this would be my choice. I lose track of the amount of changes in direction and all of the different musical landscapes this flowing number covers.
Pgroove was opening for The Big Wu, and what I found most impressive was the attentiveness of the crowd. Despite the early show time, the place was packed and no one was talking over the band. There were many in attendance that enjoyed this band for the first time.
Now the sun is coming up as we make our way home through the rolling hills of Virginia towards Charleston. I’ve been driving the past eight hours on the adrenaline that is Pgroove. All that I have now is a napkin with a set list, dirty feet from dancing, and an overwhelming feeling of serenity. There is the comforting thought that a kid in Boston just saw Pgroove for the first time, and right now he’s got a road atlas out to see just how far it is from Boston to Savannah...
Words by: David Regan
Images by: Adam Gulledge
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