Last night I found myself leaning against the bar in the dim colored lights of the House of Blues in Anaheim waiting for L.A. “livetronica” band Particle to share the stage with legendary Doors guitarist Robby Krieger. When I first saw the name on the ticket, I couldn't believe the man responsible for writing “Light my Fire” would actually be strumming his guitar in front of me. Another part of me was glad to see that he was still alive. I wasn't quite sure what to expect, but I predicted a kickass show on all fronts. Long story short, ehh. . .not exactly what I'd hoped.
Shuffling my feet over the planked floor, I scanned the crowd in an attempt to find out what I had just walked into. The crowd was a colorful mix of sandal-wearing hippies, silver haired rocker types, bushy haired teens, a sprinkling of sexpots and hoard of middle aged guys wearing business casual. It looked like a bunch of parents and their kids sneaked out of the house and ran into each other at the same concert. Whether audience members wore tie-dye, or just ties, by 8:30 p.m. everyone was eager for some action on stage.
When Particle finally strolled out from behind the wings, they were met with the applause of the hometown crowd. Eric Gould (bass), Darren Pujalet (drums) and Jesus look-a-like Steve Molitz hit the crowd with a wave of hypnotic, synth-drenched discotech beats that were awesome. . .for the first 10 minutes. After what seemed like 20 minutes of the same beat, my left eye started to twitch as nausea began to set in. The whole time I was thinking “they've gotta be stalling for Krieger, maybe he's stuck in one of the lines at California Adventure or something.”
Finally, Molitz halted the band and welcomed Krieger onstage along with a guest frontman (didn't catch his name, but I if I did I probably would have thrown it back). Even though Krieger looked more like a professional golfer than a rocker with his pristine white slacks, collard shirt and baseball cap, his understated godliness was a sight to behold. Hoots and hollers pinballed all over the venue as he reached for his classic red Gibson guitar.
The band quickly switched the atmosphere from a space-aged acid trip to a full-blown Doors tribute set. With Krieger at the helm, Particle instantly broke into the song “L.A. Woman.” Watching Krieger begin the tune with that infamous four note slide at was definitely a memorable experience. However the lackluster vocals and stage presence of the vocalist was not very reminiscent of Doors vocalist Jim Morrison. While no one can or should expect the volatile beauty of the Lizard King to be duplicated this guy on stage looked like he was just going through the motions.
As they charged through a golden set of classics like “Riders on the Storm,” “Light My Fire” and “Road House,” 62 year-old Krieger looked like a spring chicken next to the singer who barely mustered enough gusto to tap an oversized tambourine that nursed for almost the entire show. The passion just wasn't there, though the crowd never wavered in support.
One of the highlights came when the singer finally took a back seat and let Krieger and the band jam out on a the dub tinged slow jam called “W.” Kreiger's guitar squealed and riffed under his nimble fingers, taking the song in and out of heroic solos and steady rhythms. With the exception of a few choice Doors songs, it was the only time that Particle decided against beating a single rhythm like a half-dead cow at a Chino slaughterhouse.