141112 – PARTICLE – Electric Haze, Worcester
Particle might just be the rockin’ -est jam band I’ve heard yet. In fact, I need someone to tell me what the standards are for a “jam band,” cuz I’m pretty sure this one qualifies, but it’s different/ If Dopapod was a heavier band, or if bands like Twiddle had fewer vocal tracks and a more straight-on, hard-driving rock thing going on, they might approach what Particle is doing. In the eternal quest to qualify and label everything, I’m thinking: solid-rock jazz-fusion. Primarily rock, but definitely fusion, and all up-tempo, driving rhythms to keep it entirely danceable. It’s plenty nimble, but not what you’d call light.
They just launched into their first cover, Pink Floyd’s “Have a Cigar.” It’s a fairly monstrous take on the original beast, plodding with vengeance and taking the song a little further down the path of ponderous melancholy. All their music has a definite funk-bottom to it; one might not have thought of that with the Floyd before, but it works!
A quick take on the Theme from Beverly Hills Cop gets a similar treatment, thrown in just for fun, before the guys offer a few words of thanks and venture into down-tempo territory with a slinky, soulful number, then back up with a raucous, balls-out rocker with vocals. As the second half rolls along, the music ventures a little further into prog territory. The interplay between musicians ratchets up, with virtuoso guitar and keyboards. Ben Combe, the guitarist, has the look of an ‘Artiste,’ and the keyboard player, Steve Molitz, looks like a Real Musician. Both of these guys have hair, dark hair, lots of it, on their heads and faces. The rhythm section not so much. They look a couple of regular fellas, both with light hair, not much of it, and baseball caps. It’s like two different bands joining up. Clay Parnell, on bass, looks like just a plain ol’ skinny white guy, but he lays it down good with the drummer, Brandon Draper. Brandon is amazingly fast- he plays with a fairly straightforward rock style, but so quick it’s breathtaking, like Neal Peart.
Steve has been at the center of the Particle universe for a decade-and-a-half, with Ben joining him some ten years ago. After the usual ups and downs of any band, Brandon and Clay came along about a year ago. They have a new CD out, and they seem to have solidified their sound. The band I’m seeing here tonight is polished and tight; I was surprised to learn that they’ve been “in development” so recently. Their hard work is clearly paying off! The lights are right on, too- in fact, lighting director Will Simon is listed on the band’s webpage like a fifth band member.
Speaking of different bands and joining up… Ben moonlights with Pink Talking Fish. What’s this now? A band that does ONLY Pink Floyd, Talking Heads, and Phish songs? I saw them at Disc Jam last summer, and I enjoyed them for sure- nice, clean sounds all the way around, from that band and surely from this one as well. And Ben was the dude I met at a Hayley Jane and the Primates show; he guested on guitar. Ran into him a couple of weeks later at a Twiddle set here at Electric Haze, got to chatting, and his band Particle sounded interesting. They are! It’s a rich blend of music, filling in a unique niche in the highly instrumental jam scene by being quite possibly the hardest rocking
Tomorrow night is the last show of their Fall Tour, going down at the Brooklyn Bowl. Among other guests and heroes, none other than Phil Lesh is expected to show up and jam with his friends, a little payback for all the times Steve has joined him. Life is good!