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Groove Armada
The Palace, Hollywood, CA April 24th 2003

Groove Armada is probably my favorite group right now. Their fourth album, Love Box, was released last year and it's hard to believe how good it is. Their second and third albums, Vertigo, and Goodbye Country, Hello Nightclub, are also amazing. Each successive record is somehow better than the last. And you can listen to all of them from start to finish; the songs are so good, there's no need to skip around.

Love Box is a groovy, funky album, with a hip-hop feel and a disco vibe. Did I mention that it's dance music? You can't help but move when it's playing. Needless to say, I was very excited to see their show. I'd seen them a couple of years ago, doing a DJ set at the Santa Monica Museum of Flying. It was fucking great. It was a non-stop dance party. Here's the thing with Groove Armada; they perform DJ sets, where it's just the two main guys, Tom Findlay and Andy Cato. I really like to see them spin because it's not techno/electronica shit, which basically sounds like nothing to me. It is dance -- but it's got that 70's soul, disco feel to it. They also perform live sets with an eight-piece band. The show they put at the Palace in Hollywood was with the full band.

Before raving about the show, I have to bash the club where it was held, The Palace. Though it is one of the oldest venues in Los Angeles, and it's absolutely dangerous in the décor, it is a terrible, terrible venue. I'd been there a few years ago, had the worst experience, and since banned the place. But Groove Armada was playing, how could I not go? I remembered that I hated the venue, but I couldn't remember why. Now I do.

My date and I arrived at the venue at 10:45pm. The show had already started, and the first band, Supreme Beings Leisure, was on stage. We waited in a line that stretched out across 3 LA blocks. There were about 100 people in line, no exaggeration. The show was sold out, and we were all ticket holders. So we waited. And we waited. My buzz was wearing off, and I was starting to get nervous that I would miss Groove. I found out they don't go on until midnight, which was good. After about 45 minutes of waiting, I tried to find out what the hell was going on, but the door guy was incredibly rude and just told me to wait in line, without giving me a reason or any explanation. We finally got into the club at 11:45. There was no reason for this... we were all ticket holders, the show had already started, why the fuck would they make us all wait in line outside? So the people who drive down Vine think The Palace is hip because there's a hundred people out front? For $40 a ticket, I would have liked to have seen the opening band.

By the time we got inside I obviously had a lot of bad energy with me, and I was thirsty as hell. My date and I tried to find a bar. The one right when we walked in was closed. Whatever. The main bar at the floor level was insanely packed. Upstairs was another closed bar, and another. Where the hell was I supposed to get a fucking drink? After all this bullshit I still wanted to spend my money in this establishment, but like everything else, it was difficult. We finally found the smoking bar, which of course was also packed. I nudged my way through people. Everyone was thirsty and angry as they waited for the two bartenders who were taking their time serving people. When we finally ordered, we got 6 beers for the two of us. My question is, if you have 4 or 5 bars in a venue, and the show is sold out, why the hell would you only have 2 bars open? The way this club is run is just terrible. On top of it, everybody who works there has an attitude. I am never going back to The Palace.

We made our way upstairs and grabbed two open seats with room to dance. We were up high, so we could see everything. Groove Armada took the stage and began their two-hour set with "Chicago", off Vertigo. They sounded amazing. Tom and Andy were accompanied by 2 percussionists, one on drums, one playing congos, a keyboardist, a guitarist, and a bassist. They also featured a guest singer -- a tall, beautiful, black lady, whose style was reminiscent of 70's disco soul. She sang on the songs, "My Friend" (from Goodbye Country...), "Easy," "Remember," "Think Twice" (all off Lovebox), as well as some songs from their other albums. She was amazing; she had soul, presence, and knew how to work the crowd. She looked incredibly hot in her knee-high leather boots, mini skirt and an afro. She rocked, and so did the rest of the band. They played all their hits -- gracefully moving from instrumental to soul to hip-hop to dance. They performed for a full two hours and my date and I were rocking, dancing and singing the entire time. For an encore they jammed one of my favorites, "Superstylin'" off Goodbye Country.

Groove Armada is one of the most eclectic and dynamic bands right now. They know how to throw a kick-ass dance party with a touch of retro. If you have a chance to see them, live or DJ, you must. Until then, I highly recommend buying one of their albums. Buy it, don't burn it. I guarantee you it'll be money well spent. Get Lovebox and work your way back.

  --Céline Hania


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