at the House of Blues Sunset Strip
4th Anniversary show
This show was my first Particle concert. I was curious to see them because I enjoyed the funktronic space jams they created on their debut CD Launchpad. I’m not a part of the jam band scene, so the only information I got was from my pal Tony telling me that a friend of his said that the crowd liked to take ecstasy. I took that to mean that aside from the songs turning into mini dance marathons, there would be some type of stimulating light show and, if I was lucky, maybe some heavy petting from whacked out young ladies who liked the way my clothes felt.
I drove up to West Hollywood with my +1 for the evening, J.T., who was kind enough to take time out of his busy schedule to accompany me. We found a parking structure close to the club and as we stepped out of the car, a gracious young man across the way offered us free Guinness. “Sure,” I said. We walked over and he asked us again. “You don’t have to ask us twice,” I told him. He dug around in his trunk and pulled out two for us. He was attending the concert with three friends and his wife. They were all early twenties and even in that dimly lit space, their eyes looked bleary red like they had been partying for a while. They had driven up from Lake Elsinore.
I asked what the concert would be like and they said it was a blast: lots of dancing and good times. The wife finally spoke up and asked if we wanted any Xanax. I was a bit startled because I didn’t know what it was. “No, thanks,” I said. I wasn’t feeling any anxiety tonight so why bother. In fact, I wasn’t even sure it was an anti-anxiety drug. Their entire group had ingested a range between two to four pills. We thanked them for our beers and headed to the club. “You know, I haven’t taken pills from strangers in about ten years,” J.T. said.
About 9 o’clock the opening band, New Monsoon, came out. The band is comprised of guitar, a banjo/guitar/mandolin switch hitter, bass, and three percussionists. They played a compelling acoustic set for an hour and sounded great. They had the three-quarter capacity crowd dancing the entire time they played. A man who wore an eye mask made of feathers seemed to be particularly taken with them. While he danced, he pounded his chest with his hand that wasn’t holding a cocktail. You can listen to and/or download New Monsoon’s performance from this night.
During the break, the crowd was pretty friendly. I was asked if I saw Phish in Vermont; I hadn’t. Another guy I chatted with was telling me how much fun the Particle shows are, especially if you can find some ecstasy. I nodded, but that’s not really fair because everything is better when you’re on ecstasy, except for talking to your parents.
The lights went down and the dance floor filled up quick. Particle opened with a rockin’, funky cover of Michael Jackson's “Wanna Be Startin' Somethin'.” Then they played a couple of songs off the new album. As good as the CD was, their live performance was even better. The house was going crazy and everyone was having a good time dancing.
Well, except one guy. He was drunk and apparently had no idea what he was in for because he was angry that people were bumping into him. I might have understood his position if he wasn’t on the crowded dance floor. There was more room back by the bars and upstairs. He acted tough with a wasted, tan, blond hippie who wore a flowing multi-colored, dream coat and no shirt. If I were going to pick a fight, I would have picked the same guy. Angry drunk guy started to push and yell, but obviously didn’t wanna be startin’ somethin’ because the incident diffused very quickly. The hippie was too busy dancing, and probably too high, to respond so angry drunk guy stumbled away. If you ever get a copy of the concert and in between songs during the first set someone yells out, “C’mon, you puss!” that was me trying to stir things up.
Two other audience members who caught my eye were these very cute blond girls. They were smoking a cigarette on the dance floor, but would put it out very quickly after one drag, so as to not get caught by security since California is a smoke-free zone. I thought it was odd, but then I never cared for cigarettes. I would have to smoke one in 30 seconds to get any type of buzz off it. I was dancing with the better-looking one of the two, purely by coincidence. At one point, when the flame from the lighter caught my attention, she handed the cigarette to me, and to be polite, I took it. It felt ceramic. Then it hit me; the cigarette was actually a camouflaged pipe and the girls were getting stoned.
The first set came to a rollicking close when the Tim Peterson Singers, a five-piece gospel group from Inglewood, CA, joined the band. They performed an awesome medley of classic soul and R&B tunes, which included Kool and the Gang's "Celebration," Parliament Funkadelic's "Flashlight," Sly and the Family Stone's "Dance to the Music," and a reprisal of Michael Jackson's "Wanna Be Startin' Somethin’” The women tore it up and even sang a capella. It was the highlight of the evening and is something I’ll fondly remember for a long time.
They finished the first set at midnight. J.T. was tired. It was going to be a long drive no matter when they finished and since I had met my fun quota, I agreed. I had an absolute blast and will definitely see Particle again. I highly recommend them when they come to your town. It will be a grand adventure; just make sure you like to dance all night and have a good time.