Perpetual Groove

by Ora “Tre” Brasel
On this night I began a personal journey to check out and discover bands I had previously been unexposed. The first on my list was the Athens, GA jam band, Perpetual Groove. Though my knowledge of this band was particularly vague, I was about to find out a bit more about them through both their loyal and dedicated fan base, and the overall experience of the night.
I arrived at 8 pm and it seemed as if it were only going to be a handful of people coming out due to the heavy rain earlier, so I decided to take a seat up in the top tier of the venue and get comfortable. After a couple of drinks and a couple of hours, it became clear that the rain was not going to stop these fans from coming out to be grooved by their band. While the venue wasn’t filled quite to capacity, it was still very full. The closer to the 10 pm start time it got, the more jazzed up and friendly the fans seemed to get. The people who sat next to me mentioned that when they were going to school at UGA tickets were such a hot commodity they would have to be purchased months in advance. Even on the night of shows ticket scalpers were said to be almost non-existent, because generally everyone with a ticket was using it to get in.
The band took the stage promptly at 10 pm with a thunderous ovation that seemed rather large even for the healthy amount of people that gathered there. In some sort of space-like jam band fashion, the four-piece group composed of Brock Butler (vocals, guitar), Adam Perry (bass), John Hruby (keyboards) and Albert Suttle (drums) began by gently ripping at the fabric of the audience with a nucleus of interwoven sounds to get things started off. As things proceeded onward and upward with the layer of each epic song, my only complaint was that despite their friendliness, the fans seem too caught up in the moment after each break to even let me know what tune we had just gotten. I did manage to figure out two of the cover songs they played on my own, ‘It’s Your Thing’ by the Isley Brothers and ‘Slightly Stoopid’ by Phish, both of which seemed to throw gas on the flames of the already intensely heated crowd. Even though smoking isn’t allowed inside of Freebird Live, it didn’t seem to make much difference to the crowd which, aside from being on fire from the music, seemed to be firing up themselves enough to create a contact high-worthy amount of smoke that settled in front of the upper balcony.
One of the few things I had read before coming to the show was that their fans liked to classify the band’s music as trance arena rock, and it took me a bit to see how this made any sense to me, especially coming from a heavy dance-oriented past where among other things trance was something I regularly listened to. Somewhere towards the back half of the second set of about an altogether 2 hour and 48 minute show, it finally hit me in the face squarely that the keyboardist was dialing up frequencies and rhythms with his plethora of keyed instruments that were indeed very trance-like and captivating, especially when put up alongside the ever inter-changing landscape of music from the other instruments in play. Upon finally being able to connect the dots on this fact, I too started to feel fully the groove of this band and almost as quickly as I did the show faded into it’s final notes, and I was left wanting to explore this sound another time over. Well, I guess there is always next time.