Saint Motel’s The Black And White Show @ The Roxy 11/7/09

Article and Photos By: Tim Bannock

View all of Tim’s photos here.
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** This was a sold out show!

There comes a time in anyone’s life when they go to a concert and it totally takes them by surprise. The kind of surprise where they slip into their regional accent and start saying “wicked” a lot (yeah, I’m from New England).

That time was Saturday, Nov. 7th at The Roxy Theatre: Saint Motel’s “THE BLACK AND WHITE SHOW,” featuring ArmyNavy, Red Arrow Messenger, and Rumspringa. And it couldn’t have come at a better time.

It was one of those nights where you’re late for everything, you have to blow a bunch of extra money on parking, and no matter how many times you call the publicist, you find you’re just not on the press list. Armed with pocket lint for money, the first realization that you actually have a use for a stupid iPhone (my cell’s internet is slow as molasses and mostly unreadable), and the nagging sensation that you should have just stayed home, you just put your head down and push forward. Not out of any sense of determination or some high ideal of “getting the job done,” but because you know that these barriers are just your lot in life. If you turn back now, you’d find your car had a flat tire anyway.

With that in mind, you head into the show, just barely missing the first band (sorry ArmyNavy! I heard you were pretty good though!), and grab a good, stiff drink: all black and white specials at this show, so a White Russian will have to do. And then Red Arrow Messenger takes the stage and…well, hell, things just start to get better all of a sudden. A southern rock version of Coldplay, featuring a singer who could sing circles around just about every major singer you can you think of (‘cept maybe Mariah Carey, but that woman’s pipes are just unnatural). After Red Arrow Messenger comes Rumspringa, a two-piece heavy-metal-esque rockabilly act with ’70s funk attitude and solos that will make you wail out the blues. And that’s just the start.

While I’d heard Saint Motel’s music (check out their MySpace page, and make sure you scroll down; sometimes the big picture at top doesn’t load and it looks like a blank page), I really just didn’t expect them to be able to match the two previous bands. The show was just that good up to that point. But when the cocky quartet took the stage and exploded into their unique blend of melodic rock, the show only got better. Their music immediately brings to mind some kind of funky amalgam of The Flaming Lips, Red Hot Chili Peppers, and Weezer. There’s a slightly obscured sexuality to the songs, a highly irreverent rock & roll attitude, and all of that underscored by the band’s energy which was unparalleled.

Saint Motel pulls out all the stops though, adding a highly visual element to the show. With so many groups now copying the “let’s play dress up” of Gnarls Barkley or Slipknot (now that’s a weird combo!), Saint Motel uses less costume and more movie. But it’s not just static pictures on the back wall, or film clips cycled through a projector (although there’s some of that, too). No, Saint Motel had every single microphone on the stage hooked to a camera, so you were looking directly into their faces at various points while they screamed, sang, jumped around, or rocked out. There was a camera in the back of the audience, so you’d get a far-off view of the entire (super-packed) audience and the antics on the stage beyond it. There was even a camera wandering through the crowd, transmitting the unwitting passersby as they channeled the band’s music and whipped around in a flurry to the fantastic jams. It was like an art show within a film all trying to burst out of a concert with explosive effect.

Mere words can do Saint Motel no justice. These guys have toured with some big acts, and their debut EP, ForPlay, sold like crazy at the concert. Special digital versions containing 6 music videos on top of the EP’s 6 tracks are available on the band’s MySpace page. There’s pretty much no stopping this melodic juggernaut, so you better check ’em out before they steamroll right over you.

Nov. 17th they are at UC Santa Barbara, and Nov 18th they will be appearing at Cal State in Fullerton.

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