Saturday night in Los Angeles offers up an abundance of opportunity for people to get themselves into all sorts of sin and misery. You can drown your sorrows at the local neighborhood watering hole, or you can get sloshed with your friends at the club de jour. Or, if you’re a music fan, you can head down to your local club and check out a band hoping to become the next big thing. This past weekend, Saint Motel turned the El Rey Theater into their own private music club, providing the warmth of a club at their largest headlining show to date in their hometown.
From the jump, the band didn’t waste time riling up the nearly sold-out crowd. With their trademark projection screen in tow, the band performed for nearly 75 minutes, surprising fans by opting to play every song off their debut LP, Voyeur, while neglected some of the band's more familiar numbers. The first few songs, which featured familiar songs like “Honest Feedback,” “1997,” and the crowd pleasing “Benny Goodman.” The latter song was the band’s ambitious to date and featured not only a horn section, but a young fella who showed off his dance moves, which you’ll be able to check out in the upcoming video for the song.
As usual, the night was powered by bassist Dak Lerdamornpong and drummer Greg Erwin’s stable foundation. The understated duo’s prowess allowed for frontman/multi-instrumentalist A.J. Jackson and guitarist Aaron Sharp’s talents to shine. Saint Motel didn’t seem phased by the nearly 700 people who spent their Saturday with them, instead, they seemed to flourish under the spotlight.
Though the set slowed down a bit in the middle, the crowd was revitalized over the last third of the night. Things reached a near fever pitch when they performed “Butch,” off their EP, For Play. Starting with an alternate intro, the song that is debatably the most popular in their catalog had fans singing, screaming, dancing and even crowd surfing (!) along to the tune. Who would have thought that at an indie pop rock show that fans would be losing their shit like this? Apparently if you’re a fan of Saint Motel, this is commonplace.
During set closer “Stories” is when all hell broke loose. Having been at the venue for a number of shows before the show, I’ve seen crowds both large and small, but none did anything remotely close to what happened here. By the end of the song, which already was a singalong session became an all out party when 50 some odd fans stormed the stage (in a good way), mobbing the band and lifting Jackson on his back above them (see below). Ever the consummate professionals, the band kept playing despite being swarmed by some of their closest friends.
Once the dust settled and the lights went on, fans didn’t leave the venue. Everyone collectively wondered aloud, what the fuck just happened. I can help shed some light: Saint Motel played their biggest headlining show to date and kicked some serious ass. It’s not every day you see a band progress from its infancy to being on the cusp. If the rest of the country can see what we here in Los Angeles know about Saint Motel, then they’ll be amongst the next ones to be converted to the band’s addictive brand of indie rock.