October 22, 2022
Photos by Kai Deering
The Motet, the progressive funk machine from Denver, bounced through San Francisco, stopping long enough to funk things up on Divisadero with their recent show at The Independent.
Formed in 1998, The Motet has presented itself with many different players and singers in their lineups over the years, morphing to showcase the specific talents of their top-notch members at any given time.
Since the pandemic, they have seen fan favorite vocalist Lyle Divinsky and lead trumpet player Parris Fleming leave to pursue their own projects. While such a personnel shake up would stonewall many bands, The Motet would not be denied, wishing their former mates well and marching forward to the beat of their own complex rhythms.
With a current 5-piece core foundation, this version of The Motet plays to their strength…moving crowds with explosions of funk instrumental expertise. At the center of this spinning array of talent is the quintet of Dave Watts (drums), Joey Porter (keys/vox), Drew Sayers (keys/sax), Garrett Sayers (bass), and Ryan Jalbert (guitars). Add to that a revolving cast of guest players and vocalists and let the funkified good times roll.
This evening at The Independent found a packed house of fans in high spirits, and focused on the first 3 letters in funk…F-U-N. Fueled by the Mile High beats and musical expertise of The Motet, the result was indeed a fun-filled night of dance and revelry.
Though they tore through a set heavy with instrumentals such as the groovy ‘False Prophets’ and the Prince-inspired ‘Sunshine’ (which had fans making new friends in between busting out their best sweaty dance moves), The Motet insists that they are not an instrumental band.
This was underscored when keyboardist Joey Porter rocked the talk box infused vocals on a fantastic cover of Zapp’s ‘Dance Floor,’ which not so coincidentally shook the dance floor of the Independent, prompting the crowd to sway and bounce to the infectious grooves.
The temperature in the room increased even more when guest vocalist Sarah Clarke took to the stage to show off her formidable vocal chops on ‘Death or Devotion.’ ‘So High,’ and the fantastic encore ‘Get it Right.’
In the end, The Motet is all about the bottom. Bottom end bass and percussion, bottoms shaking and moving in the crowd, and the bottom line…..a night of funkified fun for anyone in ear shot. Bottoms up….mission accomplished!!
Opening the evening for The Motet, and also hailing from the mile high city was a set from Late Night Radio, a DJ specializing in twisting old classics and contemporary tunes into a jam band sketch pad perfect for live collaboration with like-minded musicians. For this performance he was paired with guitarist/producer Drew Birch of Recess for some improvisational wizardry which pulled the early crowd to the front of the stage. Their spiralling volley of beats and guitar leads perfectly fired up the joint for their Denver partners in crime The Motet.