RECAP: Perpetual Groove @ The Middle East – Cambridge, MA 3.23.12

End of Friday came, and I was off to Boston for the evening with my girl for a little R&R and some live music! Not only was it about to be my first Perpetual Groove experience, but it will be my first time at The Middle East. The restaurant/club is divided into sections where different live acts can play at the same time without interference, ‘The Upstairs’ and ‘The Downstairs’, and also has areas in which patrons can dine-in. For ‘The Upstairs’ (where I was), the front acted as a restaurant that serves middle-eastern fare until midnight and tucked away in the back right corner, just past the kitchen and beside the restrooms, was the door to the club room.

As I stood in line to enter the 190-person at max room, a girl peeked out of the door and motioned to her friend that was in front of me to hurry up. “They JUST walked on stage!” she said with a twinkle in her eye and excitement in her smile.

I walked into a room with a stage and a pretty groovy soundtrack thanks to the live act… (hence the name PGroove?) I saw familiar faces in the crowd and recognized the passion that the fans had for this band from how I feel about some of my favorite artists when I see them live. Both things made me feel comfortable and at ease.

For those in the know, you can imagine the high these fans were feeling on account of the fact that for a good majority of them, it was their first show since Matt McDonald’s return on keys. Reportedly, he took a hiatus mid-year 2008 and in that time he started a family. The original line up made of he, Brock Butler on lead vocals/guitar(s), Adam Perry on the bass and Albert Suttle on drums was united once again. From the looks on the fans faces, they picked up right where Matt had left off.

The lighting situation was dark and it was hard to find a corner to shoot. And for a show with this much energy, it was hard to justify standing in the front while truer fans were dancing with arms in the air and heads high. It was OK; I needed to shake the week off so I settled in with the crowd. Brock lead the band on vocals while the animated quartet played outward with grins-abound. Each artist was given their turn on the spot with well distributed solos throughout the show.

After they laid into their take on Fatboy Slim’s “Praise You,” the band took a breather. I mean, it is what you do when you rage through an amazing cover like that splicing in your own tid bits here and there and letting the jam just lead the crowd into a all out dance party; I think we all needed a breather. And by the way, kudos to Albert (Suttle) for a kick-ass drum spot amid the song…well done!

During the break, I made my way a bit closer to the instruments. Brock (Butler) was sitting back out of the light on top of an amp sipping on a beer. I noted his lap steel guitar. I had never seen one that close before. It was too dark to photograph, but it is a beauty.

The crowd spilled out into the street to take in the beautiful spring evening that was upon the city. Brock had made his way out just behind me to catch up with familiar faces. It is refreshing to see when an artist hangs amongst the crowd. It creates a common level for us to all stand on and demonstrates the appreciation the artists have for us as the fans.

PGroove sold out a two-night stand at ‘The Upstairs’ and Boston really brought their A-game for a Friday evening. It was clear in their antics of both the fans and the band that all were happy they were playing together again. During their last song, things got a bit silly when Brock played with a guitar behind his head and Adam (Perry) pointed his bass toward Matt on keys as if to give him a huge “wink and the gun” gesture. They succeeded in melting faces and they shook all whose hands they could reach as they walked off stage.

While there are some that can find the long jams with little lyrics draining, this crowd let it feed their good times. Said jams into big explosions of music and dance are one of my favorite parts of this scene. The band is looking onward to an amazing summer to come. Their annual Memorial Day Weekend festival, Amberland, celebrates not only their reunion but its sixth year. Set in Northeast Georgia, the band will be joined by The Heavy Pets, Moon Taxi and Under the Porch for a long weekend theme-filled “family” reunion.

Perpetual Groove @ The Middle East – Cambridge, MA 3.23.12
Set I: A Day The Way, Occamís Blazer, Suburban Speedball*, Girl on LSD**, Praise You

Set II: Cairo***, AIM, Echo, Teakwood Betz

E1: Three Weeks

notes: * Aborted due to technical issues
** Brock and Albert only
*** Cave tease