Review & Photos: Particle ’80 Flashback & More In Colorado

Particle @ The Aggie Theatre & Quixote’s True Blue – Jan. 17 & 18

Words and Images: Mike Sherry

“It feels like you guys really get it!” gushed Steve Molitz to the crowd, still lingering near 2am at The Aggie Theatre in Fort Collins last Thursday night. His band Particle had just completed a near two-hour set of ’80s Flashback material, and the northern Colorado fans had shown up, many dressed up, pumped to enjoy the choice classics.

[All Photos by Mike Sherry]

Thanks to crisp vocoder effects and synthesizer patches, old gems like Funkytown and Electric Avenue sparkled like new and got the dance floor moving early, following a hearty opening set by New Orleans band Earphunk. Longtime Particle ’80s staple Axel F was noticeably absent from the setlist, however. “We thought, why not shelve it this time & do something different,” bassist Eric Gould told me later. “Plus, Herbie Hancock’s Rockit has that feel.”

A fan pulled me aside during the show, mentioned he’d been seeing the band for years, and said even through all the cover material the jams really expanded and felt like Particle. By the end of the night they indeed had incorporated some of their own material into the finales of Safety Dance (a classic that one doesn’t usually expect much out of, except a fun singalong) and Eye of the Tiger.

While some songs like Final Countdown, Material Girl and Paradise City did fine as instrumentals, it was fun to watch Steve Molitz have too much fun flowing old school numbers like Bust a Move. Guitarist Ben Combe handily sang numbers in the higher range like You Can Call Me Al and Once in a Lifetime, delivering signature riffs and soaring solos all the while. The Paul Simon tune’s bass breakdown proved once again why they say “Gouldy’s Gold!” about bassist Eric Gould.

The following night in Denver promised a completely different experience – Particle tunes! While a few ’80s cover reprises got thrown in the mix, Particle brought an equally freaky dance party to the floor of (the new) Quixote’s True Blue thanks to high-vibe versions of standbys like Triple Threat and Launchpad.

While technically a cover, The Battle Without Honor or Humanity (aka ‘Kill Bill Theme’), has long been owned by this band, and the smiles around the packed, swirling audience confirmed it. Likewise Pink Floyd’s Have a Cigar as an instrumental groove seemed as natural a Particle tune as the Golden Gator it flowed out from, especially when dropped back into on a dime at double-speed after a frenetic jam. Ben’s guitar solo was just straight fire.

And that Golden Gator is worth another mention, firstly to acknowledge saxophonist Pete Wall’s amazing guest spot, and secondly for its tasty bridge to psychedelia. While the tune’s jam kicked off with some great flourishes from Molitz, it didn’t develop into traditional pass-the-hat soloing. Instead, a very ethereal groove led to much sonic layering – Pete skillfully contributing and also nudging the rudder, building patiently to a cohesive tonal proposition – “dig this!” (I did.) And then with a well placed snare call-in by Darren Pujalet the frantic finale of Golden Gator crushed the chaos into anthemic rock beats.

Always a strong closer, Ed & Molly finished the second set, leaving the energy high and the dancing crowd yelling for more. Pete Wall returned for the encore, spicing up the old favorite Electric Avenue as the room echoed with people singing along. As the song peaked, Molitz waved off drummer D-ron’s finale & hit the vocoder one more time, vamping “Take it higher! And higher!” with Wall joining on the mic, until the band punched in one more funky turn.

Setlists courtesy of Particle’s Facebook page:

Particle: 80s Flashback
January 17, 2013
The Aggie Theatre
Fort Collins, CO


Let’s Go Crazy
Electric Avenue
Once In A Lifetime
Pump Up The Volume>
Material Girl>
Pump Up The Jam
The Final Countdown>
Money For Nothing
Safety Dance>
Launchpad Outro
It Takes Two>
Wild Thing>
Me So Horny>
It’s Tricky>
Bust A Move
Don’t You Forget About Me
You Can Call Me Al
Sweet Dreams


Paradise City
Eye Of The Tiger>
Sun Mar 11 Outro

January 18, 2013
Quixote’s True Blue
Denver, CO

Set 1:
The Battle Without Honor Or Humanity
Die Rote Kapelle
The Golden Gator*>
Vocoder/Beatbox Jam*>
The Golden Gator*
Have A Cigar

Set 2:
Triple Threat*
You Can Call Me Al*
other Desert Cities>
Ed + Molly

E: Electric Avenue*

*w/ Pete Wall on Sax

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