July opened up with a bang like fireworks when Saint Motel tore down the gallery for the capacity crowd at Hammer Museum last night. Gathered for the first installment of KCRW’s “Also I Like To Rock” series, presented in conjunction with fellow music aficionado, Kevin Bronson, and his Buzzbands LA, the crowd was treated to one of the finer performance groups to mature out of Los Angeles recently.
We say performance group because Saint Motel is not just a band; Saint Motel is a fucking experience. Armed with the forces of a charming front man with a killer smile and vocals to boot (A/J Jackson), a funky Vietnamese base maestro (Dak), a porno-mustached guitar wizard (Sharp) and the drum general himself (Greg) – this quartet is going to be a household brand name soon if not already. With an educational background in film, these guys not only play instruments but also put on a multimedia extravaganza at each performance.
Thursday’s party was no different – as A/J had a camera on his mic, Sharp had a camera down the neck of his guitar and one of the band mate’s mothers paraded around the crowd with a portable camera. Shove all that footage into a blender and splice in some random old movies, blank screens and the occasional SAINT MOTEL word image and it becomes a constantly changing piece of artwork. Although the band did not wear their typical themed attire, which adds to the spectacle because their costumes are also part of the experience, the band was dressed to well in button downs, the occasional suspenders and some hipster shoes. Beyond the visuals and dress, being in the setting of the Hammer’s courtyard made the show feel almost magical.
Opening with my personal favorite “Do Everything Now”, the band wasted no time in piquing the interest of newcomers who’d only heard of the band as part of KCRW’s recent push of the performance and the song “Butch”, which was KCRW’s download of the day earlier in the week.
After playing a non ForPlay song as #2, whose title I don’t yet know, the band returned to their stellar EP material rifling off “Pity Party” and “Dear Dictator” with relative ease. Side note, you can check out their video for the Sam Sparro remix of Dear Dictator exclusively on Filter here.
Despite having already gone through my favorites (Now and Dictator), I could tell that there was an energy in the crowd that wasn’t going to erupt until the boys delivered “Butch.” When they dropped the KCRW trending song, the crowd exploded and, as usual, the quartet exceeded expectations – their enthusiasm and energy permeating the crowd from their perched point on the stage, even pulling some participation from the balcony level.
I chatted it up with the insider and fan based crowd before trying to squeeze my way into the packed merchandise area to acquire the sexy Saint Motel V-Neck. In addition to the tee, I tried my best to get some Saint Motel Herbie Hancock’s on my breasts, but the scores of fans waiting for their photo opportunity ultimately wore on my patience and I decided I’d give A/J, Sharp, Dak and Greg the honor of sharpie-ing my chesticles some other day….perhaps at Sunset Junction, their next Los Angeles performance (as of now).