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Review: Saint Motel, Races, Sun Ghost

I’ll admit it — I haven’t been to the Rhythm Room in years. I don’t even remember who I saw there last. But I won’t forget the bands I saw there last night.

LA bands Saint Motel and Races, and locals Sun Ghost were on the bill last night, with Saint Motel being the feature. I had tickets to review Saint Motel, but just like most things in life, you’ll have to wait just another minute.

I’ve talked with Sun Ghost more than I’ve seen them live. For those of you who listened to the most recent episode of my podcast, you’ll know that Sun Ghost is a trio of great guys who are turning into great musicians. You can tell they have fun, work hard and like to let their music speak for itself. And it can absolutely hold its own. Trevor Denton introduced their last song with, “This song is about mushrooms.” And, for me, it’s exciting to hear (and watch) a band with no lead guitar. Kudos to Sun Ghost for sticking with Korg, Bass and Kit.

Races came up next. I’m coming from the chamber music side of life. In one concert you can have six or more very different pieces, which means you also have five or more set changes. It can take a long time if you are Tetris-ing a piano, harp and who knows what else around the stage. With Races, I see a six-piece band with too much equipment. And they were ready to go in no time. Bravo! I know set changes with bands mean that it’s time to go get another beer, but they annoy me nonetheless. I could tell Races is expertly in touch with themselves as an ensemble.

They were balanced, choreographed (I still think they have too much crap on stage, but this is not the time to tell you why), and were not afraid to holler at the sound guy for tweaking between tunes. However, their performance came off as a bit rigid and leaning on the side of generic post-noise pop. Then again, maybe I just have a chip on my shoulder for bands who still tote around a tambourine/single maraca girl.

And now for the headliner: Saint Motel. I recently did a post on their tune, “Benny Goodman.” When Sun Ghost performed, the room had a fun, playful vibe. I tapped my boots and bobbed my head with a giant grin on my face the whole set. Awesome. Saint Motel was prepared to revive an audience who had already been through two hours of ear-damaging pulses (it takes less than 10 minutes for hearing loss to occur at a rock concert). The band took a little while longer to set up, but it was worth the wait. As they were tuning, a thin fog rolled over the venue. Saint Motel offered the explanation that the fog was a physical manifestation of the audience’s heat and expectation of their performance, and not the fog machine they had plugged in moments earlier.

I’m still not sure how this happened, but moments before Saint Motel struck their first chord, the Rhythm Room’s gender ratios were swung out of proportion, as enthusiastic females danced out of the woodwork and up to the stage. Ball of colorful, shifting lights? Check. A bevy of beautiful girls, eager to please the band during and possibly after the show? Check. Rope lights? Check. Ladies and the few remaining gentlemen, we have a rock concert. The cheesy pomp was just a precursor to an energetic, quirky, audience-teasing performance.

Saint Motel has reached a balance in their performance where everything sounds pretty damn similar to their album, but they offer just enough variance to let everyone know that their creations need not be confined to their previously recorded form. Great music, great show. What more can I say besides go buy their album?

2 Comments

  1. Hey now, that tambourine/single maraca girl has a pretty critical vocal role in the band too, you know. Thanks for the review. =)

  2. Yes!! She did!! I’m very sorry for not mentioning it. I was pretty darn impressed at how together the female vocals were considering the ladies were across stage.

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  1. Review: Apache Lake Music Festival - The Spec Blog | The Spec Blog - [...] I missed Sun Ghost on Saturday, but you can read my review of a previous concert of theirs here. Dry River…

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