Broccoli Samurai and Particle
The Rex Theater, Pittsburgh, Pa.
January 13, 2015
Written by Laura Beth
Photos by J William Hott
It was a cold and quiet Tuesday night in Pittsburgh’s South Side, but inside the Rex Theater, a loud and funky dance party was happening when livetronica pioneers Particle and Ohio’s jamtronica favorites Broccoli Samurai took the stage on January 13, 2015.
The show was Particle’s fourth stop on their Winter Tour 2015, and their first appearance at the Rex Theater. Originally opened as a vaudeville theater in 1905, the Rex has been hosting musical performances for more than a decade. Managed by Grey Area Productions, it has become the most welcoming venue for the jam band scene in Pittsburgh, regularly bringing in funk, soul, rock, bluegrass, folk, blues, roots, Americana, jazz, EDM, comedy, burlesque, and indie rock acts. Grey Area founder and production manager Ben Penigar is well-known and loved by the Pittsburgh music community.
The evening’s opener, Broccoli Samurai, hailing from Cleveland, Ohio, features Ryan “Bruce” Hodson on keys and synth, Chris Walker on drums and percussion, and Josh Sebo on bass. Joining them on guitar in the Burgh was Mike Miller from Vibe & Direct, another Cleveland-based band. As it says on Broccoli’s website, the band is “making big moves and the time to take notice is now.” I couldn’t agree more with that statement.
The crowd was sparse when Broccoli took the stage for an early 8pm start, but the room began to fill as their deliciously funky sound filled the room, setting the tone for the evening. Their “Up for Debate” song struck me as if I was flying so quickly on a dark trip that there was no time to even notice the dark feelings lurking in my periphery. When “Slam Funk” came on, everyone in the crowd was feeling the music for sure – heads bobbing, feet moving, and bodies swaying to the beats. At the end of the song, a “Wooooo! God damn it!” came hurtling happily out of the crowd, echoing what I was already feeling: These guys were sooooo good! To close, Broccoli performed “Be Creative for Yourself,” an explosion of sound that left me, and the rest of the crowd, craving more of these fresh jams.
Broccoli Samurai Set List, 01/13/15, Rex Theater, Pittsburgh, Pa.:
Write It Down
Up for Debate
Aardvarks & ATVs
Be Creative for Yourself
Broccoli has upcoming shows throughout the Appalachian and surrounding regions. I highly recommend catching these guys when they come to a town near you.
Headlining the evening’s show was Particle, who formed 15 years ago as one of the pioneering bands on the livetronica scene, helping to spark the creativity of a new genre of music blending elements of electronica, funk, and rock. Currently the band is led by Steve Molitz on keyboards, with Ben Combe on guitar and Clay Parnell on bass. Joining the band for the winter tour through February 6th is the Disco Biscuits’ Allen Aucoin on drums. These talented musicians play with so much great energy and enthusiasm; it was clear they are having just as much fun as the crowd.
By the time Particle was ready to take the stage, the room had begun to fill nicely, an anticipatory buzz building. The band leapt right into it, opening with “Launchpad” from their debut 2004 album of the same name. The music was mesmerizing jamtronica, accompanied by a light show that blended with the music perfectly. Towards the end of “Launchpad,” the song melted into a crazy crescendo, and I immediately knew why these guys had grown so popular in the early days of electronica. Next came a mind-bending musical journey in “American Dream,” a song featured on the Scarface videogame soundtrack. A cover of Pink Floyd’s “Have a Cigar” was described superbly by one concertgoer as “super dank.” The first set was nonstop musical movement, ending with a fan favorite, The Elevator.
At set break, the band warned us not to go anywhere, as the best was yet to come. They weren’t kidding. “Key Loop” and “Kneeknocker” started the set off right. The crowd loved a cover of Peter Gabriel’s “Digging in the Dirt.” I was captivated by “Other Desert Cities,” which featured a very pretty keyboard solo. The song felt to me like a rainbow captured in a jamtronica song. The second set was a super fun Particle People dance party.
Particle Set List, 01/13/15, Rex Theater, Pittsburgh, Pa.:
The American Dream
Have a Cigar
Digging in the Dirt
Other Desert Cities
The Battle Without Humor or Humanity (Theme to Kill Bill)
Sun Mar 11
In conjunction with the kick-off of their winter tour, which now heads out west, Particle announced the release of two new studio tracks, free to stream, download, share and enjoy on the band’s SoundCloud page. The entire Particle show, as well as the Broccoli Samurai set, are available for free streaming and download thanks to amazing Pittsburgh taper Steve Toney.
There was a fun, fluid energy in the crowd all night at the Rex, as everyone enjoyed the dance party created by both livetronica bands. The jam band family was all smiles all night, and more hugs than I could count were shared all around. Familiar faces reconnected and new friends were made. I, personally, am so grateful to be a part of such a great community of people, everyone together creating this beautiful energy inspired by the incredible music of amazing, talented artists like Particle and Broccoli Samurai. A huge thank you: to the Rex Theater and Grey Area Productions for bringing these guys in; to all the familiar, smiling faces of the Pittsburgh jam band family; Steve Toney for taping the show and sharing it; and all the new friends I met that night. And of course the biggest thank you to the guys of Particle and Broccoli Samurai: Thank you for sharing your music and your gifts with us, and for inspiring so many in the music world!
Peace & love,