The Motet Plays Parliament-Funkadelic – October 27th – The Ogden

Photos by Johne Edge

The Scene: The Motet’s annual “musical costume” shows on Halloween have become something of an institution here on the Front Range with folks buying tickets early in the summer to make sure they don’t miss out on the madness.  This year’s run kicked off on the 25th up in Fort Collins, stopped in Denver for two nights at The Ogden before heading up to Vail and finally wrapping up on Halloween night at The Boulder Theater.  As has become expected, the Boulder Theater sold-out first, followed closely by the Saturday show at The Ogden and with the costumes and energy in the room on Saturday, you would have thought Halloween came a few days early this year.

As DJ Mikey Thunder pumped out R&B, Funk, and Soul to warm up the crowd, the theater began to fill in with bearded nuns, a bunch of Big Birds (in obvious reference to Mitt Romney’s debate gaff), binders full of women (again, a Mitt Romney debate reference), a chick magnet, a great Barf The Mawg (half-man, half-dog) from Spaceballs, Red Riding Hood, a wonderfully creepy baby, and my personal favorite, Spy vs. Spy.  Despite the fact that I only saw one “Diaper Man,” (more on that later) there was great eye candy everywhere you looked as many people had clearly gone all out with their costumes this year.

The Motet: On the heels of the massive success of “Funk Is Dead” [Editor's Note: Read our review of that show here] the Motet tackled the psychedelic Funk of Parliament-Funkadelic this year, and while it didn’t quite live up to last years monster show, they kept energy levels high and did George Clinton proud!

The huge 14 piece band walked on stage at 10:30 dressed all in white and the packed room erupted with deafening cheering.  As Dave Watts, Garrett Sayers, Joey Porter and the rest of this expanded version of The Motet got settled, a giant LED screen at the rear of the stage lit up with a star-scape to the delight of the amped up crowd and Percussionist Matt Grunstad took the mic and launched into the spoken intro to “P-Funk (Wants To Get Funked Up)” to kick-off a 90 minute first set.  “Good evening.  Do not attempt to adjust your radio, there is nothing wrong,” said Grunstad as the band slowly dropped into one of the most recognizable songs in the P-Funk catalog.  It was a great way to open the show and it showcased the deep, throbbing Bass, and distorted keyboards that would become hallmarks of the night.

Now, The Motet has brought in special guests before for their Halloween extravaganzas, most notably Kyle Hollingsworth of The String Cheese Incident for their Talking Heads project, but this year they featured Nigel Hall, a frequent collaborator with Soulive and member of Lettuce and The Warren Haynes Band, to be sort of an MC for the proceedings.  While the rest of these guys tend to have a fairly laid back stage presence, Hall was the life of the party as he bounced all over the stage, hyped up the crowd, provided soulful vocals, and of course joined Porter on the keys for some extended freak-out jams that brought the house down.  When he tore into “Give Up The Funk (Tear The Roof Off The Sucka)” he was positively going wild and the crowd responded with force.

As the night moved on, the band slammed through classics like “Up For The Downstroke,” “What Is Soul,” and an epic “One Nation Under A Groove” that featured Porter going wild on the Talk Box as AEG Bar-Back Stacey was going wild behind the balcony bar is his diaper.  It was a sight to see as Stacey danced, shouted along, and filled the ice bins at the same time providing a great moment of levity at a packed and hectic bar.

Songs blended together, Bass bombs fell like rain, and The Motet altered all our minds with nearly three hours of music from one of the most influential bands of the 70′s.  They nailed the hard stuff, they broke it down like experts, but when it came to the harmonies that are the foundation of “Mothership Connection,” they were really able to showcase the vocal prowess of Jans Ingber, Kim Dawson, and Damion Massey as smooth Funk oozed into the darkest corners of the room.

When all was said and done it was a fun and funky night, and while it didn’t top “Funk Is Dead,” everyone in the room had smiles on their faces to the bitter end.  With costumes like Sly & The Family Stone, Michael Jackson, The Talking Heads, Earth Wind & Fire, and even Madonna on their resume, one has to wonder what The Motet will break out next year.  Here’s hoping they allow themselves to funkify something that didn’t already start out funky; they’ve proved that’s where they are at their best!

Energy: B+
Musicianship: A
Stage Presence: A-
Sound: A-
Set/Light Show: A

Overall: A-


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Who Is Timothy Dwenger

Music has always been a part of my life. It probably all started listening to old Grateful Dead, Peter Paul & Mary, and Simon & Garfunkel records that my parents had, but it wasn't long before they were taking me to concerts like Starship, Crosby, Stills & Nash, and Huey Lewis & The News. I got the bug to write about music after reviewing an Eric Clapton concert for a creative writing project in high school but didn't really take it up seriously until 2002. Since then I have published countless articles in The Marquee Magazine and done some work for Jambase.com, SPIN Magazine, and various other outlets. I started Listen Up Denver! as a way to share the music information that is constantly spilling out of my head with people who care. Please enjoy!