An improvement: Nowhere to go but up


Starr Hill Music Hall
Sunday, October 25

This Particle wasn't the same Particle I saw before. There was more than a particle of difference. This Particle was more focused and controlled, with more defined direction. This Particle was good.

I remember the lights, though. The lights were the same as before. Lots of lights– the kind that change colors, shapes, textures, and moods... beaming off the stage, into the crowd, onto the band, around the room, and into my eyes just enough to remind me to blink. They call it "intelligent lighting" because the lights can be programmed to react to the music. If you could program people to react to the music, they would they be intelligent people. I don't know... I digress.

Last time, the lights were better than the band, and that's never a good thing. Before, Particle's jams were too jammy, the guitar noodled too much, the sythns were too synthetic, and the bass was too much down beat and not enough in the pocket. I guess that's why this time around I thought I was listening to a different band.

Is this the Particle I knew? This Particle has rid itself of shameless, aimless jam explorations and replaced them with a cleverly arranged electro-dancefunk odyssey. This Particle had a grasp on how to control the momentum of a dance beat– the gradual buildups that pull your heartstrings with the steady pulse of the kick drum until you feel like you're going to explode if that snare doesn't drop soon. Drop the snare. Drop the snare, damnit! Bring in that damn Moog line that's going to release the tension!

Finally the snare drops, the hi-hats swing into double time, the bass fills out its groove, the guitar swells in the pockets, and the melody rears its head. Just at the right time. If you blink, you might miss it.

What else was the same? Oh, yes. That dancing dude front stage surrounded by racks of keyboards, synth modules, and samplers. I remember him from before. Last time he was much more annoying, doing a dance halfway between the robot and a seizure. Maybe the fact that I was irritated with the music made him so unbearable last time. This time his dancing didn't detract so much.

I was more distracted by his playing, maniacal and precise. He moved around the devices like a mad scientist, waving his hands, conducting the rest of the band, smiling at the sneering guitarist, and generally enjoying his powers of hypnosis over the audience. His dancing still sucked... oooh, purty lights... what was I talking about again?

Oh, yeah. The dude on keyboards. He dropped in samples, doubled the bass, filled in piano accompaniments, and dueled with the guitarist something fierce. Every once in a while he would look over to the side, where DJ Logic (Project Logic, Medeski Martin and Wood) was standing next to his Newmark turntables, and smile. Logic would nod just enough for a beam of light to reflect off his newly bald head.

Logic wasn't there last time. He was a welcome addition. When he finally joined Particle for a jam in the second set, it was a perfect match. That's not too difficult, considering Logic has the knack of making his turntablism fit into nearly any scenario. I have to thank him for a job well done.

Particle proved this time around that they're a band worthy of the hype. They came with their A-game. They even made me feel kinda bad for dissing them in print last time... well, not really. Just goes to show: You can't please all the people all the time, but if you please some of them most of the time, you're in pretty good shape.