The Warehouse at FTC in Fairfield, CT was alive with jive on Saturday August 13 with The Motet and special guest Mammal Dap lighting up the stage. The pit was near filled to the back wall with fans and every single person having the time of their lives. It would not have been the party that it was without newly added Motet frontman Lyle Divinsky, amping up the crowd and maintaining an inhuman amount of energy throughout the two set performance.
The opener Mammal Dap was a unique group that brought a big sound to the venue. The four mammals out of Massachusetts combine rock, EDM hip-hop and funk to make a sound that isn’t too avant-garde but was without a doubt an exceptional and intriguing performance.
At the start, there were several people in the front of the stage, most talking amongst themselves, distracted by friends and drinks with people of all ages and attire scattered across the venue. It was an unexpectedly diverse crowd with some kids, 18-year-old at least, wearing tattered Converse shoes, fishnet stockings, band t-shirt and a Hello Kitty backpack. Meanwhile upstairs, several men wearing three piece suits are sipping on mixed drinks talking and laughing with friends.
Most of the crowd’s attention was drawn to the stage when Mammal Dap performed their first song, “I Want To Be Your Friend.” The track had recognizable sounds from all different genres: a hip-hop drum beat from Colin Jambert, rocking guitar riffs from Killian Karlsson, the EDM aspects from the keys and synthesizers played by Zak Cross, and funky grooves from the bass performed by Rhees Williams. Picked apart instrumentally, the sound isn’t all that interesting. The drumming can be a tad bit repetitive and the main riff from the keys can get a little old as well, but take the music as a whole and it can really start to be appreciated. Saturday night was a party, and a party needs some background music. This is not to say the music wasn’t appreciated, and that there weren’t interesting drops and riffs, but picked apart player by player, the music loses its purpose. This is not to say the musicians aren’t talented. There’s a decent amount of improvisation and they mess around with some pretty challenging time signatures, like in their second song of the night, “Starbirth.” The performance is just appreciated better as a whole.
They jammed on for about an hour, accruing more and more attendees from the upper level and really setting the scene for the night. Some other hits from the setlist were ambient still, but tracks like “Lost” had more of a direction to them, unlike “Starbirth” which felt stuck in the same groove at times, although the beats were very grabbing. Nevertheless, it got the room moving and got people excited for the main event, The Motet.
“Good God,” was all anyone could say when the funky bunch hit the stage. They were simply electric, a constant flow of energy and power. And it wouldn’t have been the same show with Divinsky. His passion for the music was just infectious and one couldn’t help but feed off of his energy. He and Garrett Sayers were recently added to The Motet’s line up and fit in seamlessly. Someone naive to the band’s history would have no idea they weren’t the original members.
The group from Colorado defines themselves as having roots from funk, afrobeat, disco, electronic music and soul, while putting a modern jam and improvisational feel to their songs that gets the crowd moving and the party started. Their sound is tight, but very powerful, much like the styles of funk bands in the late 1970’s and early 80’s. These classic groups are what band leader Dave Watts used as inspiration when he first started to toy with the idea of creating a funk band. Their sound is like a mixture between Earth, Wind and Fire and James Brown: tight, funky and moving.
Their first song was, predictably, very much just a funky, 10 minute jam. Everyone had their shot to flaunt a solo or two, along to a tight, but open groove that had a fun, unpredictable direction to it. Their second song of the night, “Like We Own It,” had the same feel to it, with a little less improvisation to it and more typical song structure, but was still a blast to listen to. The keys, played by Joey Porter, really started to shine here because of the use of the main riffs of the song in his solos. That’s something that takes some great talent to do and it’s something that the crowd can really appreciate. The trumpet player, Gabe Mervine, struts his stuff as well, playing a more jazz like solo with long flowing riffs, as compared to the keys quick jabbing notes. Both solos were very fitting though and a huge hit with the crowd.
“Know It Too Well” came up next, off their recently released album Totem. It had more of a Parliament feel to it, in other words, it wasn’t as tight and fast as other tracks. The feeling is very laid back and flowing but still upbeat and hard hitting. There’s some more work from guitarist Ryan Jalbert, who has a little bit of fun but stays fairly reclusive, but only to really shine in later tracks.
“Power” came up next, and one can really start to see how much this band relates to James Brown, especially Lyle. His dance moves alone are reminiscent of The King, as he scooted and shuffled his feet across the stage, dripping with sweat only a half hour into the show. The band puts their own, very jam band influenced twist on the tight and funky song, bringing the song down to a tamed, quiet drop to allow members to screw around on their instruments. Mervine got a little dissonant and jazzy during his solo but still retains a good chunk of melodic notes. He rides on the groove for sometime before the band jumps into a “Fame” tease to give saxophonist Drew Sayers some fun on his mic followed by Dave Watts pounding away at his kit for the first time of the night. His set was fairly small but he used crazy amounts of color to make a hell of a solo. They ran through a few more off their new album including “Truth” and “Fool No More” before they made their way onto the second set of the night.
The second half started off with “Damn” from Totem and Jalbert really started to get wild on his frets. The crowd went wild when he would fly all the way up the neck and when Lyle would scream all the way to the top of his vocal range. They sounded incredible together and they really connected on this song. Up next was “Back It Up,” a laid back, swinging kind of groove, highlighting Porter once again, followed by “So High” and “Rippin’ Herb.” A highly anticipated cover, “Serpentine Fire,” finally came around and it was uncanny how much it sounded like Earth, Wind and Fire. The classic 70’s funk band and The Motet differ in so many ways, especially in size but they sounded impeccably close to the original, of course with their own jam twist on the track. The chorus requires Lyle to really stretch his pipes and he does so with ease. They finally wrapped up their night with one last Earth, Wind and Fire cover “Mighty Mighty.” They perfectly closed their set with something to showcase every person on stage and to give the audience something super catchy to sing along to with Lyle.
It seemed no one was expecting such an energetic performance from The Motet. The group was drenched in sweat and so was the audience with smiles stretched on everyone’s face as they walked out.