Particle’s pictures from Lake Tahoe

Particle’s Steve Molitz is living the life: He just hung out with the Allman Brothers, he’s making the music for a video game with Shaquille O’Neal and he is on a nationwide monthlong tour that ends at the New Orleans Jazz Fest and began at South Lake Tahoe’s Whiskey Dick’s Saloon.

The remaining original member of the 14-year-old funktronic rock band brought a light engineer, a sound man and a new rhythm section to the South Shore venue for the first time.

Particle and Shaq
Shaquille O’Neal and Steve Molitz during production of a new video game.

“When Whiskey Dick’s came up, I checked out pictures online,” Molitz told Tahoe Onstage before he began the tour. “It looked like the kind of place where we could throw a really fun party and really cut loose and just go for it, especially for a tour opener. … We will play a bunch of new material and a bunch of new covers. It will be that classic Particle sound but definitely updated and modernized to fit the sound of the new lineup.”

Many consider Particle to be the pioneering livetronica band, a blend of electronic music played live by musicians. Molitz, the keyboardist, explained his sound.

“Particle is really a mix of rock, funk and electronic dance music,” he said. “We have a lot of improvisation within our songs and we also try to approach our music from a really open place where the musicians are free to push the boundaries of the composition into a more psychedelic zone. So we’re not as confined as a pop band would be within the structure of the song. On any given night you can hear a song played differently than it was the night before. There is a lot of room for interpretation which keeps music fresh for us and the audience.

“In our heart, we are really a rock and roll band even when we’re playing the electronic beat in that style of music we do it with a really high-energy, raw approach. For us, it’s all about connecting with the audience and experiencing that transfer of energy that happens when the band is really firing on all cylinders. The fans are dancing and the lights are going just right. Everybody loses themselves in that moment. That’s really what we’re shooting for.”

Ben Combe has played guitar with Particle since 2005. The new rhythm section is drummer Brandon Draper from Kansas City and Philadelphia’s Clay Parnell who also plays with Brothers Past. The musicians have a diverse background. Combe studied composition at Berklee School of Music. Draper studied world and jazz music and Parnell comes from the electronic underground scene.

“It’s a pretty cool bunch of guys and depending on the set list and also on the vibe of our audience, our sound can change from night to night,” Molitz said. “We always try to feel the vibe in the room and see what the fans are warming up to and if it’s a party crowd and Tahoe is often known to be then we will definitely kick it up a few notches and play the dance beats. We have played some of our favorite shows in Lake Tahoe, just legendary, epic throw downs with the fans up there. Se we are really looking forward to getting back in town, especially since it’s our tour opener.”

Speaking of throw downs, Molitz, a Los Angeles native who lives in New York, attended an Allman Brothers concert at the Beacon Theater the night before he spoke with Tahoe Onstage. He has joined the Allman Brothers onstage on a few occasions, and last week he spoke with members before the show, which will be one of their last.

“The Allman Brothers are one of those legendary bands that paved the way for bands like Particle by the way they approached their music,” he said.

“I have learned so much listening to Gregg’s playing, really everyone in that band is so incredible. Just last night they did a version of ‘Stormy Monday’ and Gregg was so incredible on it. I was so inspired just listening to them. The band just sounds great. It’s really interesting. I know this might be one of their last tours but to me they sounded as good as they ever have. The band was just killing last night. And they all just great guys, too. Warren and Derek are just sweet guys.”

Molitz, who wrote a musical score for a video game based on the Jeff Bridges movie “R.I.P.D.,” has teamed again with Big Deez Productions to create the soundtrack for a new video game titled “Shaq Fu: A Legend Reborn.” The new game is still in production and people can help create characters, fight moves and do voiceovers by going to the website http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/shaq-fu-a-legend-reborn. Participants can win a chance to get a keyboard lesson from Molitz and to play in a pickup basketball game with O’Neal.

“They are trying to make it a fun thing and way to involve fans,” Molitz said. “Shaq is a really fun guy, creative and likes to involve the community. He’s hilarious.”

Particle Spring Tour

  • 3.27 – South Lake Tahoe, CA – Whiskey Dicks get tickets
  • 3.28 – Arcata, CA – Humboldt Brews get tickets
  • 3.29 – San Francisco, CA – Great American Music Hall get tickets
  • 3.30 – Santa Cruz, CA – Moe’s Alley get tickets
  • 4.1 – Las Vegas, NV – Hard Rock Cafe (FREE SHOW!)
  • 4.3 – Los Angeles, CA – Troubadour get tickets
  • 4.4 – Santa Barbara, CA – SoHo get tickets
  • 4.5 – San Diego, CA – V Elements Festival get tickets
  • 4.6 – Phoenix, AZ – Crescent Ballroom get tickets
  • 4.8 – Salt Lake City, UT – The State Room get tickets
  • 4.10 – Lawrence, KS – The Bottleneck get tickets
  • 4.11 – St. Louis, MO – 2720 Cherokee get tickets
  • 4.12 – Newport, KY – Southgate House Sanctuary get tickets
  • 4.13 – Columbus, OH – Woodlands Tavern get tickets

  • 4.15 – Cleveland, OH – Grog Shop get tickets

  • 4.16 – Kalamazoo, MI – Bell’s Brewery Eccentric Cafe get tickets

  • 4.17 – LaCrosse, WI – Cavalier Theater get tickets

  • 4.18 – Minneapolis, MN – The Cabooze get tickets

  • 4.19 – Madison, WI – The Frequency get tickets

  • 4.20 – Chicago, IL – Lincoln Hall get tickets

  • 4.22 – Milwaukee, WI – Miramar Theater get tickets

  • 4.23 – Lexington, KY – Cosmic Charlie’s get tickets

  • 4.24 – Memphis, TN – 1884 Lounge get tickets

  • 4.26 – New Orleans, LA – Howlin’ Wolf (first weekend of Jazz Fest, co-bill with Anders Osborne)

 

 

 

 

 

 

ABOUT Tim Parsons

Tim Parsons
Tim Parsons is the editor of Tahoe Onstage who first moved to Lake Tahoe in 1992. Before starting Tahoe Onstage in 2013, he worked for 29 years at newspapers, including the Tahoe Daily Tribune, Eureka Times-Standard and Contra Costa Times. He was the recipient of the 2011 Keeping the Blues Alive award for Journalism.

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