Perpetual Groove is back. Playing in Denver for the first time since February of 2012, they settled into their two-night run at Cervantes Masterpiece Ballroom on Friday with a show that stretched into the wee hours of Saturday morning. The four piece trance rock outfit is riding high with their return to the stage after a two year hiatus; rejuvenated after a collision course of self-discovery and introspective exploration. With the longtime core intact and amicable, their fans in the mile high city came out ready for a reunion, and the two sets served up memories in jubilant fashion, even paving way for more to be made.
Following a set by The McLovins, PGroove-as their fans call them-took the stage just before 11P.M. The chatty crowd eclipsed the first notes of Pearl Jam’s “Release,” which started slow with an emphasis on the vocals. “TSM2” got the crowd singing along and grooving to the lighthearted jam from their first album, “Sweet Oblivious Antidote.” “All that I know is I hope that you know that we’re all doing fine,” Brock Butler sang in a truly emotive moment for those longtime fans seeing the band, and a healthier Brock, for the first time in years. Denver has been obsessing over Brock Osweiler for the past couple of weeks, so it’s only fitting that the real Brocket Launcher came to town and put on a show.
“53 More Thing to do in Zero Gravity” preluded “Stealy Man,” both off of “All This Everything,” before finishing the first set with a raucous “Sun Dog.” Easily one of my favorites, they can take the hootenanny instrumental explosion in different directions, and tend to each time. This version was strong as could be and a highlight of the show to that point, especially Albert Suttle’s intricate drumming breakdowns and range of syncopated beats. Their boundless energy put an exclamation point on the first set, leaving the near sellout crowd high fiving one another as the house music and lights came on.
“Cairo” started off the second set after a relatively short break. With tight drum and bass interplay between Suttle and Adam Perry, Matt McDonald took the music to a foreign land of synthesizers and slow trance dreams, trickling over the “perpetual groove.” Another signature song came in the form of “Three Weeks,” which defines the band’s sound. It is, in essence, groove music with all sorts of effect-laden sounds. The inner “emo” that spills across a number of their songs is seen here as they’ve never shied away from wearing their emotions on their sleeve, or in this case, their lyrics. It has a similar framework to a number of their tunes in terms of how it unfolds, which sees soft and sweet strumming and lyrical interplay leading into a frenzied uptick in rocking instrumentation before bringing it all home.
The heavy arena rocker, “TTFPJ,” geared things toward a take on Weezer’s “Say it Ain’t So,” which a lot of the young folks in the crowd probably recognized from the “Guitar Hero” video games. McDonald played guitar in addition to Brock and the crowd sang right along. The lighthearted, vibrant fiddling of “Playground” is in fact a musical playground, much like their other instrumentals, and was emotional in tone. “Two Shores” brought the second set to a close, as Brock let us know that “when it’s time to go, it’s time to go.”
The bands’ affinity for the nineties continued into the encore, with Brock coming out solo and playing an acoustic rendition of “Big Empty,” by The Stone Temple Pilots. It was no surprise considering the Pilots’ recently fallen front man, Scott Weiland, but was a touching rendition and resonated with those in the room that caught what Brock was doing. The rest of the band came back out for another of their signature astral ballads, “It Starts Where it Ends,” signifying a sign of more to come after a powerful return to Denver.
While the first night had come to a close, the band set the stage for a potentially blazing second show on Saturday night, with numerous jams and fan favorites left hanging in the rafters of Cervantes Masterpiece Ballroom. Yes, fans of any band will critique shows night by night, but everybody seemed to leave with the feeling that Perpetual Groove is back and better than ever. In my opinion, that’ll always trump no PGroove at all.