After a two-year hiatus that concluded earlier this year, Perpetual Groove has quickly rediscovered their stride during live performances. The lineup has returned to the original members who founded the band in Savannah, Georgia nearly twenty years ago. The audience displayed constant joy throughout the extended single set, which lasted over two hours encore included. Keyboardist Matt McDonald, who had been away from the band for several years even before the hiatus fit right in like a missing puzzle piece. The selection of songs constituted a large variety of the band’s entire catalogue, choices ranging from the just-released EP Familiar Stare to Sweet Oblivious Antidote, which is Pgroove’s oldest release available to the public (their self-titled first album is not in circulation).
“TSM^2” beginning the night strongly helped set up an incredibly poignant and intimate setting with Perpetual Groove. The southern jam group sparsely makes trips to the Northeast, making this a must-see show for the hardcore PGroove fans. Personally, I met three people who had been waiting multiple years to be graced by the presence of a live show from this talented yet under-the-radar quartet. While not a packed house, those who did attend were big-time fans who easily discerned the several decade-plus old tunes that the audience was treated to. Guitarist Brock Butler seemed as polished as had been five years ago when I last enjoyed them in person. He can make a person who only enjoys instrumentals, pine to hear the sweet sounds that emanate from his head.
Many bands have songs in their repertoire which are covers, and Perpetual Groove is no different in that regard. Where they do stand apart is in the wide range of styles they chose to cover and the high level of execution that is present with each choice. Songs made famous by Chemical Brothers, LCD Soundsystem, and Johnny Cash were all featured in a single show this past April. On this Tuesday, the classic KC & the Sunshine Band track “Get Down Tonight” filled the cozy confines of Iron Works in Buffalo, NY.
Being veterans of the live music scene, the setlist was appropriately ordered. The final five songs are a perfect microcosm of this: “Holy Ship” is a calm but engaging track leading into the smooth yet more energetic “Cairo”. The buttery-smooth new original instrumental track “Lemurs” followed. Next, the beginning of “Stealy Man” draped uncontrollable excitement across the room as we frantically tried to discern which of the All This Everything tracks we had been blessed with as the set closer. Adam Perry showed some tasty chops on his Moog keyboard during “Stealy Man”, showing diversification from the ever steady bassist. The encore of the title track from “Sweet Oblivious Antidote” was the perfect bookend to an evening which started with another selection from the same outstanding album.
“Jam” is not a generous enough term for what Perpetual Groove does onstage between their scripted moments…the possibilities are truly massive and are often fully realized. Given that only twelve songs were played in over 120 minutes, the improvisational sections are abundant but words cannot give them full credit. Luckily thanks to our friends at Buffalo.fm you can watch the entirety of the show via Youtube below:
Perpetual Groove Setlist:
*KC & The Sunshine Band cover