Funky neo-psychedelic collective Saint Motel recently toured through DC, playing to a super packed sold-out house of enthusiastic concert-goers at 9:30 Club.
And if the audience weren’t enthusiastic, Saint Motel’s own enthusiasm was infectious enough to heighten the well-merited hype to dizzying levels. It was a smart and fun performance that was part of the band’s The Awards Show Tour, which found the group drawing songs for the setlist from golden envelopes — songs selected by fans in a vote.
Frontman A/J Jackson led his five very energetic and talented bandmates through a merry romp of earworms that cheered an already-happy crowd at 9:30 Club.
On April 26, Saint Motel began the set with “Van Horn” from The Original Motion Picture Soundtrack, Saint Motel’s most recent full-length album, published in 2021 by Elektra Records. For the second song, the band drew the first “awards” number of the set, and bassist Dak Lerdamornpong presented A/J with the first of four golden envelopes from which the photogenic lead singer drew the winning tune. The winner was “Daydream/Wetdream/Nightmare” from Saint Motel’s 2012 debut album, Voyeur. The band would draw three more songs in votes throughout the set, and a gold podium in front of the keyboards capped the “awards show” theme.
While they were certainly rocking out by this point, Saint Motel took things to the next level with the well-known and very funky single “Move,” hailing from their sophomore studio album, Saintmotelevision. The clever, kinetic song filled the room with its spirited lyrics and booming rhythms. I know it well for its imaginative video. Let there be no mistake that Saint Motel are masters of the music video medium.
Watch the official music video for “Move” by Saint Motel on YouTube:
A/J was indeed a frontman for the ages, with charisma and expressive smiles to spare. His clear and inviting tenor was a perfect fit for Saint Motel’s expressive songs, which cover a lot of ground instrumentally. A/J was a ready wiz on guitar and keyboard, gliding from station to station to meet the demands of each number.
I mentioned Dak Lerdamornpong earlier, but let’s take this opportunity to applaud him and the rest of the phenomenal band. On stage left, Dak wore a complimentary yellow jacket that paired well with A/J’s red, so the two seemed in tandem. The band’s color scheme also fit guitarist Aaron Sharp with a yellow jacket, so he had the same visual interplay with A/J from stage right but also cohesively connected with Dak the other side of the room. Kudos to the band’s clothes designer!
Dak played with intensity and passion, sliding to center stage and back again as he buckled down for some funky beats. Dak held down the stage left fort with Saint Motel’s touring saxophonist and trumpet player — both of whom deserve better from me as I don’t have their names handy. The gents were super cool cats, however.
Aaron also performed with passion and grit, and he floated in front of drummer Greg Erwin, who was having the time of his life. Greg was tireless on his drum kit, and he also threw the audience as many winning smiles as A/J, perhaps making this the most well-adjusted band that I’ve seen in quite some time. Saint Motel’s love of holding court in breezy jams and laidback bridges, augmented by breaking thumpalongs, depended heavily on Greg’s skill, and he was more than equal to the task.
The sold-out room at 9:30 Club may have come to hear something new as well, and they were not disappointed. Soon after the show’s midpoint, Saint Motel rolled out “Everyone’s a Guru Now,” an unreleased number that may well appear on the band’s next studio album.
“Everyone’s a Guru Now” had a laidback ’70s vibe accentuated by the band’s delivery, which characterized it as a bit of an old-school TV theme. A/J held the focal point of the song on guitar; Saint Motel’s cool saxman moved to keyboards; and everyone radiated sunny vibes.
In a lengthy encore run, Saint Motel paced through a medley of “slow jams.” They segued into a second encore with Voyeur’s “Balsa Wood Bones” and closed the entire concert on “My Type,” their 2014 breakthrough song. “My Type” remains their most anticipated number, and Saint Motel poured all of their magnetism and appeal into their 9:30 Club performance.
Speaking of Saint Motel as masters of music video, revisit Saint Motel’s official music video for “My Type,” which makes extraordinary and cheeky use of the visual medium.
Watch the official music video for “My Type” by Saint Motel on YouTube:
Here are some photos of Saint Motel performing at 9:30 Club on April 26, 2023. All pictures by Mickey McCarter.