Seattle – The Seattle-based group Motopony celebrated the release of their new LP, Welcome You, Saturday at The Showbox at the Market. Recorded live to tape at Washington’s Bear Creek Studio by Mike McCarthy (Spoon, Heartless Bastards) and mixed by Guy Massey (Manic Street Preachers, Ed Sheeran), the album is an amalgamation of psychedelic and indie rock, electro-pop, and even blues and folk music.
On stage, the songs translate honestly and personally, albeit theatrically, shepherded by Motopony leader Daniel Blue. A musical shaman in all black, complete with a feather sticking out of his Western hat, Blue channeled each song’s emotion with an almost manic fervor. Centered between lead guitarist Nate Daley and rhythm guitarist Mike Notter, the frontman gracefully and hypnotically leapt and pranced, gyrated and twirled, about the stage in between lyrics, captivating his viewers.
Motopony performed many new songs off Welcome You, as well as tracks from earlier in their discography. Opening the set was their standout hit off their 2014 Idle Beauty EP, “Get Down (Come Up),” an infectious anthem that immediately showcases Blue’s powerful, versatile voice. “Will you walk with me, will you take some time?/ Can we talk about love can we talk about dying?” he muses. The song also highlights the band’s strong sense of rhythm and timing, fading out as Blue spits, “But once you been down you can’t forget to come back up again, baby come up,” and then switching tempos as the lyrics soar, “Get up!” Since it dropped last year, this is a song that you immediately, viscerally feel, that you can’t escape. It demonstrates why Motopony deserves to be on your radar.
Transitioning into “Daylights Gone” off the new EP, the band featured their more poppy sensibilities. It’s a catchy, danceable track that easily got the crowd moving. “Euphoria,” just like the band, has received its own metamorphosis since its acoustic origins on Motopony’s 2011 self-titled album. In its current live incarnation, the song swells, thanks to the interplay between Daley and Notter on electric guitar, Forrest Mauvais on drums, Andrew Butler on keyboard, and Terry Mattson on bass. Blue sheds his intimate, just-above-a-whisper vocals as heard on the record, and passionately declares, “Euphoria, euphoria!”
“King of Diamonds,” also off the 2011 record, is an easy, chiming head-bopper. On new track “Molly,” Blue’s voice theatrically lilts as he nearly shouts his love’s name, backed by some fuzz and reverb to create a track that wouldn’t have felt out of place during the heyday of late-60’s psych rock. Appropriately following was the bluesy psychedelia of “Buffalo Medicine”. Blue’s distorted voice echoed and warbled, as the keys and guitar playfully riffed each other.
“1971” has already drawn comparisons to Pink Floyd and Led Zeppelin, yet its composition, sing-along chorus, and theatricality are also reminiscent of The Rocky Horror Picture Show soundtrack. Motopony fans were happy to wave their hands back and forth and belt along with the band during the memorable chorus: “Life in 1971, I wanna be there, I wanna have fu-u-uun.”
“She Is Spirit” mellows out the set, Blue delicately delivering the poignant lyrics, “If you ever sober up, you’ll see the city is a desert/ And the only source of water, is the love you find at home.” In a recent interview with City Arts magazine, Blue said the words came to him during a drunken walk home from the Capitol Hill bar Sun Liquor. He also “believes the ‘She’ in the title is his other, who suffered from mental illness and died from cancer when Blue was 22.” As the song builds, the singer’s voice is pure, taking flight as he repeats, “forgive your father,” “tell your secrets,” “help the weakest.” It’s a moment of sobriety and sincerity during Motopony’s live act; one that stirs each audience member.
Next, the band adds to the annals of rock history their own “Gypsy Woman,” a heavy, sexy blues rock number that transitions well into the continuation of psych rock on “Livin’ in the Fire,” which closes with a dissonant guitar chord hovering in the air as Motopony leaves the stage to massive applause.
The band soon comes back for the much-deserved encore and plays “Easy Come, Easy Go” which opens with breathy, eerie vocals and floating synth, as bassist Mattson truly grooves. The fuzzy opening of “Changing” gives way into the uplifting chorus: “We are changing/ Well can you feel it, deep in your bones…./ Don’t hold back, ‘cuz baby this is your life.”
Blue blows a kiss to the audience and asks, “Any requests?” After taking in the jumbled shouts from the crowd, “’Wait for Me’ it is,” he said, before adding, “This is a time of massive change. This goes out to all the heartbreak, anyone who had to wait – thanks for hanging on.”
“I hope you know that all my life/ I have been searching for a wife/ A partner and a confidant…/ Wait for me/ I know it won’t be easy/ What a thing/ To believe/ In a dream,” Blue sings, reflective of many couples who are now able to legally marry.
“We’re gonna do one more,” he announces to the crowd after much applause. “Thank you for being here tonight!”
Motopony kicks gears back into their blues-psych rock vibe with 2011’s “Seer,” getting the crowd moving and pulsing to the music. A celebratory energy had taken hold of the venue, and it was a lucky Seattle music fan who got to experience the show Saturday night.
Three acts opened the night at The Showbox. First was Tacoma-based The Owl Parliament, another project of Motopony’s Nate Daley, with Aaron Spiro, Mark Alvis, and Andrew Wambem. They are an indie rock quartet which draws comparisons to Dr. Dog and My Morning Jacket. Following was the surf-punk sounds of LA’s Big Harp, originally an acoustic folk husband and wife duo of Chris Senseney and Stefanie Drootin-Senseney. Since adding drummer Daniel Ocanto, some keys, fuzz, and reverb, Big Harp’s live show is assertive, aggressive, and accessible. Finally there was Tristen, whose shiny gold dress, petite stature, and sweet Nashville accent didn’t fool anyone – the singer packs a punch, with vocals piercing, pure, and strong like a Southern, folky Pat Benatar. Her pop sensibilities and showmanship onstage wowed the crowd, a stellar act before the headliner.
For more information on Motopony, including tour dates, visit HERE.
With degrees in journalism and music, Caitlin’s written for Paste Magazine, The Chronicle of Higher Education, and MajoringinMusic.com. She loves cheese, laughing at GIFs of corgis, road trip sing-alongs, and connecting with people over good beer and good music.