The Motet & On The One | 09.13 | SF

Words by: Ann Marie Svilar :: Images by: Susan J. Weiand

The Motet/On The One :: 09.13.07 :: 12 Galaxies :: San Francisco, CA

John Staten - On The One :: San Francisco
If I had been someone other than myself, say a deaf woman or someone equipped with a pair of those white noise earphones while watching On The One's performance at the 12 Galaxies I would still feel inspired to write this critique. On The One is a lively band to watch. Maybe it's because I am a writer, but when I am at a live show I need what I like to call "a little character development." I don't arrive expecting the high energy and theatrics of a Rolling Stones concert, nor do I want the band to be so involved with the audience that I am being told to put my hands together repeatedly at the start of every song. What I want, in any style and at any tempo, is a performance. If it's a sad singer-songwriter, I want to see the pain in the nerves. If the songs are political, I long to hear the anger. If it's a straight forward hard-driving rock 'n' roll throw back to Led Zeppelin sort of thing, then let me see the party in the big chords and swaggering knees. It's about having "duende" – so much passion for what you are doing that it seeps through the skin, and therefore becomes obvious to others. As a viewer, what I want to watch at a show is more than fancy lights and boys staring at their Apple computers. This is not the half time show, but this isn't just what's playing from my Ipod either.

Music is the only universal language. What my eyes took from this show, that my ears had no part in, was the pleasure of watching a four-piece band really communicate while they were playing. I envisioned a conversation with musical sound. They were laughing and looking at each other. Often Andy Irvine spoke directly to John Staten by hovering over him, close enough for conversation conducted in 12-inch voices. With his drum kit parked at stage right, Staten - arguably one of the most entertaining drummers touring today - engaged the crowd from the very beginning by simply looking and playing right to us, not a common characteristic for drummers who are often tucked in the back.

Jesse Molloy - On The One :: SF
Probably tired road dogs by now, On The One's first studio album, Love Addiction (produced by KDTU's David Veith and mastered by Soulive's Alan Evans), is due out this October. On The One is Staten (Karl Denson's Tiny Universe, Giant People) on drums, Jesse Molloy (Giant People and Pink Floyd Experience) on the saxophone, Aaron Bleiweiss (Starshak) on guitar and Irvine (Giant People, Beanstalk) on bass. Their sound is a jazzy sort of soul-funk, and some of the most danceable music I have heard in a while.

On The One keep things interesting by switching the momentum within the songs and not hovering on a jazzy sax solo or a fast paced rock & roll jam too long. Here, they gave different weight to different parts with improvisation often leading to a climax and then the resolution to the music's intention. Mid-set they played "Tuesday Night," a song that took the crowd on a hip shaking roller coaster ride for over 16 minutes. When the tempo was slow, OTO was the kind of band that belongs in a dark red lit-bar where people sit on swivel seats and smoke long cigarettes. When the tempo was up they grasped at a big band sound with a funky George Clinton soul breakdown twist. Highlights of the show included multiple James Brown samples and a rockin' "Pump Up The Volume" to close out the set leaving the dance floor smiling and sweaty. They are what I have missed since Karl Denson's Tiny Universe stopped touring. On The One are the recent winners of the "Best Jazz Album of the Year" at the San Diego Music Festival and I'm not surprised.

The Motet was next and I was eager for their show. A longtime Colorado girl, I've got a history of seeing the band tear up mountain town bars but had heard rumors about a totally different sound. I give credit to any band who takes giant leaps, and that is what The Motet seems to do. But, the Motet has jumbled up their lineup like some people switch shoes, all the while still being held together by songwriter-drummer Dave Watts, the sole original member after nine years. It's hard to recognize who The Motet actually is anymore. The Motet is now Watts (drums), Garrett Sayers (bass), Dominic Lalli (saxophone), Ryan Jalbert (guitar) and Adam Revell (keys). I'm not sure if it's nostalgia or the need to hang on to a marketable name, but one wonders why The Motet chooses to still call themselves "The Motet" when they aren't even close to the same band anymore – and that's just talking about the lineup. The Motet I heard at The 12 Galaxies showed little resemblance to the high-energy, Afrobeat, loud, jazz-funk and percussion driven band I remember. Gone are the days of world beats. The Motet has dived head first into the improvisational electronic world.

Aaron Bleiweiss - On The One :: San Francisco
When you listen to The Motet, you hear many different, well-timed sounds. The beats you hear are coming from one of two computers on stage. Computers, like synthesizers, leave the musician even more room to experiment, sure, but I was distracted by how much focus The Motet seemed to give those shiny silver machines.

Electronic music is like a deep forest of sounds - some big as tree trunks, some leafy and almost unrecognizable. Listening and reflecting on their last album, Instrumental Dissent, I have to admit I miss Scott Messersmith and his popping percussion that used to add a lightness to that forest along with something obtuse and capable of leading us through the frenzy of layered music. The mood that The Motet set in the beginning made me want to sway back and forth leaning on a friends shoulder rather than dance my ass off. At this performance I got a little lost in the smart musicians playing repetitive grooves with textures upon textures. I had trouble deciphering where one trail began and the other ended. In some respects, Dominic Lalli's saxophone was what I grabbed onto throughout the night. His improvisations and tailored horn grooves were great.

I applaud The Motet for being brave enough to dive into whole new territory. I can think of a handful of bands that I used to like back in '96 who still sound just the same as they did way back when. A band that isn't willing to evolve and take risks gets boring. However, fans can be truly fickle, and I admit to being that way sometimes, too. It's like when a romantic relationship starts to change, which can make us judgmental. In my opinion, The Motet has flipped into a musical handstand. I say, "Run, puppy, run. But don't forget your roots." We don't want to get lost in transition.

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[Published on: 10/1/07]

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NickBoeka Mon 10/1/2007 04:30PM
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this show was super super sick! I was actually thinking about writing a review of it myself, but got bogged down by work for work, and you know....

Ann-Marie, I'm glad that both of these groups got the press they deserved.

If you haven't checked out the Motet recently, and heard the sounds that they are dropping now-a-days, go out and see them, quick! Hopefully it doesn't take them another year to make it out this way again....come on Dave, make it happen!!

DJ Saturday Baxter Mon 10/1/2007 09:08PM
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DJ Saturday Baxter

nice review. i always liked the bass player from BeanStalk...that guy kills it! The Motet....The Motet at one point was one of my absolute favorite bands. They killed the latin funk! They also killed the Herbie funk like crazy! When they changed the sound completely to "Indie, Trance, IMprov...things got a little strange. I do have a question..."How does the word INDIE describe music?" THe Motet does play the sickest Halloween shows ever. I saw them cover Micheal Jackson and it was so bad ass. THis year they are playing the music of Jamiroquai!!!! It will probally be one of the funkiest shows this Halloween. See you in Boulder!

Chaloupka starstarstarstarstar Tue 10/2/2007 01:27PM
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I'll be @ that show in Boulder!! Question - Will they have somebody on vocals to sing the Jamiroquai tunes?? Curious.

DJ Saturday Baxter Tue 10/2/2007 02:55PM
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DJ Saturday Baxter

The Motet hires the best musicians to fill out the band possible. In the past they have had 2-3 super soulfull singers, more then one keyboard player ripping Herbie Funk, horn sections, percussion....totally sick.

‹^› ‹(•¿•)› ‹^› {¬¿¬} starstarstarstarstar Wed 10/3/2007 04:56AM
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‹^› ‹(•¿•)› ‹^›      {¬¿¬}

INDIE does not describe music, it describes how it is marketed.

Indie, short for independent, as in independent record labels.

SCI Fidelity for example =)

as for the motet being re-invented I guess I will go see them if I get a chance, but I will likely miss the old lineup I saw at smilefest in 2003!!

Marcsmall Wed 10/3/2007 10:06AM
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The Motet used to be one of my favorite bands. However, they have completely abandoned their afro-cuban-jazz-funk style which attracted so many die-hard fans for run of the mill electronica. Ever since Scott on percussion left the band, they have seriously gone down the crapper. They are now playing pretty much pure electronica, which everyone else and there mother can play and in which bands doing so are a dime a dozen. I understand that the young kids love this stuff and that its where the money is, but please, try and be true to your roots. I've been seeing these guys for 8 years and it's a real shame what has happened here. I know they need to make a living, but this stuff is not only boring, it's a sellout of massive proportions. These guys are way too talented of musicians to stoop to such a lame genre. Please bring back the old Motet.

DJ Saturday Baxter Wed 10/3/2007 02:47PM
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DJ Saturday Baxter

i am with marcsmall1.... bring make the latin funk! indie trance = not good.

‹^› ‹(•¿•)› ‹^› {¬¿¬} starstarstarstarstar Thu 10/4/2007 03:31AM
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to trade originality for something generic. really freaking SUCKS!!!!!!!!

Damn!! Dave Watts, WTF????

‹^› ‹(•¿•)› ‹^› {¬¿¬} starstarstarstarstar Thu 10/4/2007 03:34AM
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‹^› ‹(•¿•)› ‹^›      {¬¿¬}

This statement from the guy in the other band is really disturbing.>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

The beats you hear are coming from one of two computers on stage. Computers, like synthesizers, leave the musician even more room to experiment, sure, but I was distracted by how much focus The Motet seemed to give those shiny silver machines.

santacruzin Thu 10/4/2007 08:34AM
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on the one are off the hook! i 1st saw them at bobolink last summer and caught them in SF and tahoe since. matt schumacher held it down at the boom boom awhile back, but andy is the man. keep killin' it guys. what happened to the mohawk john?

bbqribs starstarstarstarstar Fri 10/5/2007 07:36AM
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On the One is an incredible band. I would also like to say they are some of the best people in the business. Never stop believing! I hope all there dreams come true for them!! Check out their album "Live at the Knotty Pine" A big plate of bbq funk!!

ira7420 starstarstar Mon 10/8/2007 08:23AM
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I've been a long time fan of Motet and I'm torn on "the Change". I have to give it up to them for evolving/growing, but a complete metamorphious is a little too much for my liking. DANCE YOUR ASS OFF was their thang w/the best afro-beat around, now its a whole new beast. Garret Sayers IS one of my Fav bassist out there, he grooves like no other. Their H'ween shows are by far the funnest single night shows I've seen. If you haven't listen to them, their all on LMA and sound great! As for their singing goes; Jans Ingber is the MAIN dude(Prince, Michael) Here's his my space he fucking rules


yaitsdom Mon 10/8/2007 12:40PM
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all you have to do is ACTUALLY LISTEN to know that the motet is doing some of the freshest shit on the scene right now. yes, it may be in the form of electonica, or rock, or whatever. but it's MUSIC people. your job is to LISTEN. don't pull the 'boo hoo, it's not making me dance card. that is a LAME cop-out. You all roll with too much expectation. If i knew one of you guys growing up and saw you a few years later i would NOT EXPECT you to be the same person. of course you are going to change. So embrase the fact that the Motet is evolving like any other artist would (AND SHOULD!!!!) and turn your ears back on. smile. smoke a bowl (or whatever you fancy) and be happy that there is a band in the jam band scene that is evolving. Either way, i'm sure THE MOTET STILL LOVES YOU ALL whether you like them or not.

debra910 star Tue 10/9/2007 05:08PM
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i just want to say that yaitsdom knows where its at...

rickson64 starstarstarstarstar Thu 10/11/2007 03:36AM
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The ON THE ONE cats are some of the nicest, most professional musicians I've ever met. Not a bad bone in one of them. Their first studio album "Love Addiction" will release later this fall. David Veith (keys KDTU) mixed it and Alan Evans (drums Soulive) mastered it...extremely tight tracks. You'll want to put on roller skates and disco down. Tuesday they were signed to a label/distribution deal in Japan and will be touring Japan in support of "Love Addiction" in the spring of 2008. The World is shrinking.