The Motet & Euforquestra 12.12.15
Words By Coleman Schwartz
Photos By Scott Shrader (J. Scott Shrader Photography)
The band was supported by fellow Coloradans, Euforquestra, (originally from Iowa City, IA). After missing one of their previous Seattle gigs, I was excited to hear what this euphoric funk orchestra brought to the table. Composed of Mike Tallman (guitar and vocals), Otis Lande (bass), Matt Wright (keys, vocals), Austin Zaletel (saxophone, vocals), Matt Bricker (trumpet) and Craig Babineau (drums), this group is known for groove-based, exploratory dub/soul/funk music. Starting off to a fairly empty room, they wasted no time getting those in attendance to move around and enjoy the vast swatch of dance space available.
Set break was a welcome chance to appreciate the wonderful community of Seattle funk music supporters that help to make shows like this possible. Our group locked down a great spot on the relatively open balcony with perfect views and plenty of dancing space. Everything was in perfect order for a legendary dance party, and once the show began, The Motet more than fulfilled their end of the bargain.
The Motet is an improvisational funk band with heavy disco and afrobeat influences. I have often heard them compared to acts such as Jamiroquai and Parliament/Funkadelic. Founded by Dave Watts (drums), the band also features Joey Porter (keys), Garrett Sayers (bass guitar), Ryan Jalbert (guitar), Gabe Mervine (trumpet), Matt Pitts (tenor sax) and Jans Ingber (vocals and percussion).
This was my 5th time seeing The Motet since July of 2014, and I am happy to say that the band is still surprising me and improving between each show. This set featured lots of new material, and re-energized takes on Motet classics. You could feel the collective sense of relief in the room as hundreds of people danced away their long December week of finals, work-related stress, and rain.
Shylock then departed the stage, replaced by the Eurorquestra horns, Zaletel and Bricker. Ingber stated their intention to play some afrobeat and donned his jug. The souped-up band navigated their Fela Kuti-inspired song “Cheap Shit” with proficiency and power, garnering extreme appreciation from the raucous audience. Bricker teamed excellently with The Motet’s own Mervine, propelling the funk extravaganza into the stratosphere in a way that I thought none but Lettuce were capable of.
One of my favorite parts of The Motet’s live show is the number of weapons in their arsenal. Many of these weapons are provided by Porter. While keyboards, synthesizer, and clavs played prominent roles all evening, Porter made the fans wait nearly 90 minutes before first busting out his hallmark vocoder on “The Fountain.” As his synthesizer notes took on the inflection of his vocals, the music took on a new dimension of expressiveness.
They closed the set with a wild performance of “Like We Own It.” This soulful track features intricate, interlocking horn parts that nearly seem to encircle each other, and tend to get stuck in your head. Shylock’s contributions to this track were particularly dynamic, she does a great job of pushing Ingber to new heights vocally with her talent. The crowd refused to allow them to leave the stage for very long afterwards, bringing them back for an encore of “Keep on Don’t Stoppin’.” Sayers dazzled us with a final ridiculous bass solo. The man’s fingers move so quickly, he appears to teleport from fret to fret with no lag time.
After seeing a fifth Motet show, I came away with a renewed sense of excitement for the band’s future direction. It was great to see them play some new material and mix-up the setlists more than I had seen before. I am sure this trend should only continue as they work towards another album. This outfit of supremely talented musicians is really starting to come into their own as they affirm their place as a major band in the funk music scene by playing larger venues.
A caveat to this perspective is that, just a few days after this show, Ingber announced his decision to leave the group. The reason for this amicable split is that he prefers making music locally and spending time with his friends and family to the rigors of touring life (can you blame him?). The door seems to be open for him to return at a later date if he so chooses. His last shows will be their New Year’s Eve bash in Atlanta, and the 1/1 Phish after-party in New York City. The band seems determined to hit the road with a renewed vigor and plenty of special guests. I can only assume Shylock will be included in these plans, and I also look forward to seeing who else they collaborate with. Ingber has served a crucial role within the group, but as long as he is happy, there is no paucity of talented vocalists for the band to work with.
The Motet's Setlist: Brother Man > Knock it Down, 123 > Just Around > Jam, Don’t Leave Me, Cheap Shit*, Space and Time, Fight the Power, The Fountain, Don’t Wake, Like We Own It
Encore: Keep On Don’t Stoppin’
*with Matt Bricker (trumpet) and Austin Zaletel (saxophone) from Euforquestra
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