Friday, March 3, 2012
Culture Room, Fort Lauderdale
Better than: Getting slugged in the face in a mosh pit, in my opinion.
The relationship between Perpetual Groove and their fans is a warm and affectionate one, and their annual two-night run at the Culture Room is always a high-energy celebration of that bond. Friday night, this year's P Groove reunion kicked off in an inspired way as the band and the fans alike offered enthusiasm and heart, making for a night that surely made all the travel and anticipation leading up to the event worthwhile.
It was a friendly and excited scene. The club was full of folks with great attitudes but not too full to breathe and move around, which was nice. Fans mingled in the courtyard before the band took the stage, and once the lights went down, the party was on without hesitation.
Right out of the gate, P Groove entered into a series of trancey jams. By the third song, the musicians had clearly connected not only with one another but to the room and the dancers as well. "53 More Things..." was an early highlight, elevating the group mood as it built strongly, peaked, and gave way to "Occam's Blazer."
The first set closed out with a couple of soulful songs that many fans treasure the most. Brock Butler's songwriting and delivery is moving. Fans know the words. They place their hands on their hearts and close their eyes as they sing along. This element of poetry and personal, emotional connection is a quality missing from many, if not most, jam bands.
The fans' connection to the frontman goes beyond artistic resonance, though. "There are probably 75 people in here that have Brock's cell phone number, and he texts back," said fan and promoter Destiny Spang of Brotherly Love Productions. After the show, the plan for many was to meet up with the group for some beers.
Throughout the second set and all the way to the close of the two-song encore, the show's momentum built continuously. Jams got higher and higher, and the light show added to the intensity. The people got higher and higher too, with eyes closed or zoned into the lights, bodies surrendered to the energy being stirred up and guided by the able musicians onstage.
By the end of the night, fans were passing drinks up to the players, and they gladly accepted. There was a feeling of genuine gratitude coming from the stage, not just for the drinks but for the opportunity to play to such a loving room full of people. And that sentiment was reflected right back to the band from the crowd. It was a good vibe scene, a healing scene, and this is just the halftime report. Surely, night two was more of the same.
The crowd: Was a mix of mellow, old-school stoners and young rave types with flashing lights on their fingers.
Random detail: In the line outside, a man named Fedora was asked by a young lady to trade hats. He refused because he didn't want to go through the trouble of changing his name.
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Devil May Care