Starting from now, all bands should apply the same Saint-Motel-formula, have a big screen in the back of the stage and project the titles of the songs they are about to play! I thought this was perfect for people like me who are trying to write about the show, but also for anyone, as it was building a real anticipation when people were reading the song titles. When you think about it, the pleasure in music always comes from anticipating a riff, a chorus, so this trick was working very well as people cheered up before all the favorite ones…and there were a lot of them.
Saint Motel was headlining the evening at the El Rey on Saturday night, and they gave to their fans a truly joyous and exuberant album release-party, at the image of their new one, ‘Voyeur’.
Before the show, lead guitarist Aaron Sharp was talking with a friend just behind me, truly amazed at the full house that the theater has become, whilst his friend was telling him there was still a long line of people outside waiting to get in. The show was effectively a real success, as the quartet brought the energy to the high-ceiling chandeliers of the El Rey a few times during their set, and the crowd provided a feedback matching the effervescence on stage…. Did I see a few crowd surfers? Yes! People were having the time of their life, treating Saint Motel's pop-glam-rock songs as punk rock material.
The four members of Saint Motel, elegantly dressed as usual, opened the show with ‘Honest Feedback’, a song off ‘Voyeur’, and played many of the multi-influenced tracks composing the album, with the help of an added horn section and another person on tambourine. From the festive samba rhythms of ‘Feed Me Now’, which already unleashed a few high-energy ‘Heys’ in the room, to the catchiness of the keyboard running throughout ‘1997’, to the dreamy poppiness of ‘Daydream / Wetdream / Nightmare’, there was not a dull moment or a let down… in the first rows, it was all smiling faces (sometimes even a little drunk) and all mouths opened and singing the lyrics along.
The band brought a little surprise during their retro ‘Benny Goodman’, as a little 6-year-old boy, looking like he was auditioning for the Jackson 5 circa 1968, did a few break-dance/moon-walk moves that made the crowd in total cuteness alert. And since we were in the oldies department, they continued with a cover of Breton Wood’s ‘Gimme Little Sign’… funny how the eclectic range of the songs was not breaking the rhythm of the show at all as the music staying consistent. ‘At Least I Have Nothing’ was a total riot with a few boys and girls surfing the crowd, ‘You Do It Well’ was a mean dance floor number, and ‘Puzzle Pieces’ brought the energy to another level with its Brazilian carnival vibe… What can I say, each song was perceived as a hit!
Saint Motel do it with class all along, ‘Thank you’ and ‘Applause’ silent-movie-black-and-white cards were projected on the screen behind them after each song, but before the encore, an ‘Intermission’ was announced,… no, Saint Motel doesn’t take a break it would be too common.
There also were the old hits, ‘Butch’ and ‘Dear Dictator’, which started with the wildest distortion of the night, before closing the show with ‘Stories’, and an ‘occupy the stage’ unexpected movement from the crowd that the security guards hadn’t seen coming…
Guitarist/keyboardist/singer A/J Jackson, all smile was melting the crowd with tons of charisma and a genuine simplicity, guitarist Aaron Sharp and bassist Dak were dynamically interacting with each other, and drummer Greg Erwin was flying out of his drums at any occasion. ,… 'Do you have a good time?' asked A/J to the audience, 'So are we!' he answered, 'an out of body experience!' he added at one point. And why not, the show was electrifying from start to finish, as if we had taken one of these fun rides that ends before having let us time to take a breath.
1 Honest Feedback
2 Feed Me Now
4 Benny Goodman
5 Gimme Little Sign (Brenton Wood’s cover)
7 You do it well
8 At least I have nothing
10 Puzzle Pieces
11 Balsa Wood Bones (performed almost acoustically)
12 Dear Dictator