A band from Los Angeles whose sound has been described as indie pop but is something much more dynamic than that, Saint Motel recently made its way to DC as part of its 2020 world tour and Parklife DC was there to shoot photographs at the sold-out 9:30 Club.
The band was born in 2007 when musicians AJ Jackson and Aaron Sharp became friends while studying film at Chapman University. Saint Motel’s nucleus was formed not long after when they met bass player Dak Lerdamornpong and drummer Greg Erwin, with Aaron as lead guitarist and AJ as lead vocalist and playing piano and guitar as well.
In 2009, the band released its first EP, ForePlay.
Since then, Saint Motel has groomed an exhilarant cinematic pop sound and has built a reputation for avant-garde live performances featuring bursting visuals, a wide assortment of props and energetic crowd engagement.
Influenced by the film industry and motion pictures as an art form, everything Saint Motel has produced appears thoughtfully inspired by movies or the business of movies. Concurrently, AJ has built a quasi-separate career as a filmmaker.
In 2016, the band released the LP saintmotelevision, which reached No. 62 on the Billboard 200, and followed it up a year later by releasing what was considered to be the first ever complete “virtual reality edition” of an album, featuring a 360-degree video for each song.
Meanwhile, Saint Motel’s sound itself has taken the form of everything from jazz, funk, punk, soul, swing, and disco to more contemporary dance music, electronica, and alternative rock.
The current tour, which will take the group to the UK after a long list of US dates, supports the 2019 album Original Motion Picture Soundtrack, the first EP in what will be a three-part series.
Stream Original Motion Picture Soundtrack: Pt. 1 by Saint Motel on Spotify:
Aiming to make music for “that perfect party,” as they’ve said in the past, the band might be getting pretty close.
Saint Motel’s commander-in-chief AJ proved himself on this District visit to be a swashbuckling, multi-talented character and a visionary for much of the band’s presentation at 9:30 Club on Feb. 11.
He led the way on the stage and even off into the crowd as Saint Motel put on a spectacle of show that was broken into three mini-sets called “scenes,” utilized a host of eye-popping props culled from the Silver Screen and finished with a three-song encore to cap a vivacious night of music.
Cold Cold Man
Set 2-Military March:
Right Back to Where We Started From (Maxine Nightingale cover)
Chicago (Sufjan Stevens cover)
Encore/Set 4-Band Biopic:
Here are some photos of Saint Motel performing at 9:30 Club on Feb. 11, 2020. All photos copyright and courtesy of Casey Vock.