State Theatre Portland
The Motet

98.9 WCLZ presents

The Motet

Moon Hooch, Jaw Gems

Mon, December 31, 2018

Doors: 7:30 pm / Show: 8:30 pm

State Theatre

Portland, ME

$35 Advance / $40 Day of Show

This event is all ages

Buy tickets in person at the Port City Music Hall box office (504 Congress Street) Wednesday-Friday 10AM-5PM, charge by phone at 800-745-3000, or online right here. State Theatre box office will open one hour before doors night of show.

The Motet
The Motet
Throughout history, unity starts on the dancefloor. From ancient tribal cultures to neon night clubs, beats bring bodies together. Once grinding and grooving in unison, the movement generates friction, sparks, and light. That might just be the purest form of energy on the planet. The Motet harness such energy on their ninth full-length, Death or Devotion. In fact, the Denver septet—Dave Watts [drums], Joey Porter [keys], Garrett Sayers [bass], Ryan Jalbert [guitar], Lyle Divinsky [vocals], Drew Sayers [sax], and Parris Fleming [trumpet]—encode a message in their energetic mélange of boisterous badass funk, swaggering soul, and thought-provoking pop.

In the process, they challenge convention and arrive with a dynamic, diverse, and definitive statement.

“The essence is always going to be the groove, but we wanted to expand the idea of what a funk album could be,” says Lyle. “Of course, you want a driving backbeat. However, with the division that’s going on in this country and the world, I think it’s every artist’s responsibility to create a conversation. That conversation doesn’t have to be political either. It can be about love or an introspective journey. I think the commentary should be on what it’s like to be alive today. By drawing on funk, we create a fun, palatable musical vehicle for the message to go down. Our goal is for you to recognize we’re all dancing on the same dance floor—even though our steps may look a little different.”

Death or Devotion earmarks an important point in the band’s own journey. Since emerging in 1998, the boys have cooked up eight full-length albums and entranced countless crowds. 2016’s Totem saw them welcome Lyle behind the mic and Drew on sax. Shortly after, they kicked off what has become an annual tradition by selling out the legendary Red Rocks Amphitheater for the first time. “It was my six-month anniversary and first show for a hometown crowd,” recalls Lyle. “I’ve got 10,000 people looking at me like, ‘Who the hell is that?’,” he laughs.

That night would be chronicled on the fan favorite Live at Red Rocks. In the meantime, the group maintained a prolific pace of 100 shows per year in support of Totem. Along the way, The Motet started recording Death or Devotion during intermittent sessions at Scanhope Sound in 2017.

For the first time, Lyle, Drew, and Parris (who joined in 2018) worked on a Motet record together from start-to-finish.

“On Totem, the train was already moving, and I was just a train hopper,” says Lyle.
“Drew, Parris, and I came onboard within the same year. Now, we’re all bringing our pieces to the puzzle. For me, I brought that R&B style. Funk is the common ground, but the music is a result of different inspirations: namely Drew’s hip-hop and reggae knowledge, Ryan’s psychedelic jamming, Dave with the worldbeat, Joey with his encyclopedic understanding of punk, and Garrett being the best bass player to exist. We found a really cool balance between the funkiness and songs that challenge your emotional headspace more than typical pop.”

The first single “That Dream” showcases the myriad of musical flavors from all seven members. Clean palm-muted guitars bristle against a swaggering beat as the horns enliven each verse, while a vocal call-and-response relays a head-spinning tale.

“I took a nap, and I had the craziest dream I’ve ever had,” he recalls. “In the dream, I’m heartbroken from a nonexistent relationship, so I go out to a bar. I get seduced by this beautiful woman who serves me a glass of wine with poison. I wake up handcuffed and she’s stealing from me and torturing me. It was so dark, but I woke up and thought, ‘That would be a crazy subject to write a party song about!’”

Elsewhere, “Highly Compatible” hinges on an unshakable riff and raucous refrain upheld by sizzling sax. “It’s like that beautiful moment of falling in love where you recognize something as supremely real-life magic,” Lyle goes. “Harry Potter couldn’t conjure a better spell. It’s the magnetic nature of the chemistry. We captured that chemical recognition.”

From the infectious hooks of “Contagious” to the instrumental fireworks on “Speed of Light,” The Motet ultimately propose an important question at the heart of Death Or Devotion.

“What are you going to bring to yourself and the world?”, Lyle leaves off. “Are you going to bring death, or are you going to bring devotion? The choice is yours. When you listen to this record, I’d love for you to walk away feeling a little bit more connected, whether it be to yourself, to your friends, or to your community. Being able to drop all of the vision for a minute, be present, smile, and dance reminds us we’re all going through this together.”
Moon Hooch
Moon Hooch
I‘m realizing more and more every day that you can make anything happen for yourself if you really want to,” says Moon Hooch horn player Mike Wilbur. “You can change your existence by just going out and doing it, by taking simple actions every day.”

If any band is a poster child for turning the power of positive thoughts and intention into reality, it’s the explosive horn-and-percussion trio Moon Hooch. In just a few short years, the group—Wilbur, fellow horn player Wenzl McGowen, and drummer James Muschler—has gone from playing on New York City subway platforms to touring with the likes of Beats Antique, They Might Be Giants, and Lotus, as well as selling out their own headline shows in major venues around the country. On ‘Red Sky,’ their third and most adventurous album to date, the band uses everything they’ve learned from their whirlwind journey to push their sound to new heights, bringing together the raw, transcendent energy of their live performances and the sleek sophistication of their studio work into a singular, intoxicating brew that blends elements of virtuosic jazz, groovy funk, and pulse-pounding electronic dance music.

“I think ‘Red Sky’ is more focused than any of our past albums,” reflects McGowen. “We practice meditation and yoga, and I think that we’re more evolved as people than we’ve ever been right now. That evolution expresses itself as focus, and through focus comes our energy.”

It was two years ago that the band released ‘This Is Cave Music,’ an exhilarating thrill ride that earned rave reviews from critics and fans alike. NPR hailed it as “unhinged” and “irresistible,” praising each musician’s “remarkable abilities” and naming their Tiny Desk Concert one of the best in the prestigious series’ history. The album followed their 2013 debut, which had Relix swooning for their “deep bass lines, catchy melodies and pounding rhythms,” while the Wall Street Journal celebrated their “electronic house music mixed with brawny saxophone riffs.” Though the band—whose members initially met as students at the New School—turned heads in the music industry as relative unknowns with a charismatic, unconventional sound (they play with unique tonguing techniques and utilize found objects like traffic cones attached to the bells of their horns to manipulate tone, for instance), they were already a familiar and beloved sight to straphangers in New York, who would react with such joy and fervor to their impromptu subway platform sets that the NYPD had to ban them from locations that couldn’t handle the crowds. NY Mag once referred to their sound as “Jay Gatsby on ecstasy,” while the NY Post fell for their “catchy melodic hooks and funky rhythms,” saying they had “the power to make you secretly wish that the short [subway] wait becomes an indefinite delay.”

While the band’s busking days are behind them now, the lessons they learned from all those platform parties helped guide their approach to recording ‘Red Sky.’

“What we discovered playing in the subway,” McGowen explains, “is that the more focus and the more energy you put into the music, and the more you listen to everything around you and integrate everything around you into your expression, the more the music becomes this captivating force for people.”

Recorded at The Bunker studio in Brooklyn, ‘Red Sky’ is nothing if not captivating. The album opens with the tribal urgency of the title track and proceeds, over the next 45 minutes, to utterly demolish any and every possible barrier that could stand between your ass and the dance floor. On ‘Shot,’ Wilbur sings a stream of consciousness vocal line over an airtight groove, while “Psychotubes” channels the apocalyptic fire and brimstone of death metal, and the staccato intro of “That’s What They Say” gives way to a gritty, late-night come-on of a saxophone line that’s far more suggestive than any whispered words ever could be.

Though the band is heavily inspired by electronic music, they made a conscious effort to use as little in the way of “studio tricks” as possible on ‘Red Sky,’ aiming instead to capture the sound of their live show, which has evolved significantly from their days underground.

“When we were playing in the subways, we were playing entirely acoustic,” explains Wilbur. “It was just two saxes and a drum set. Then Wenzl acquired a baritone sax and we all started getting into music production and incorporating electronic music into our live shows.”

At their performances, the band now plays through what they call a Reverse DJ setup, in which the live sound from their horns runs through Ableton software on their laptops to process recorded effects onto the output. In addition, to flesh out their sound on the road, the band began utilizing Moog synthesizers, an EWI (an electronic wind instrument that responds to breath in addition to touch), and other more traditional instruments like clarinets. Wilbur added vocals to his repertoire on some tracks (something the subway never allowed him to do), and Muschler, meanwhile, traveled halfway around the world to expand his percussion skills.

“I went to India, and the first morning I woke up, it was like 5am, and I followed this music along the banks of the Ganges,” he remembers. “I eventually ended up finding this amazing tabla player, and after his performance, I asked him for lessons. He agreed, and I went for daily lessons with him and another guy for the next two weeks. After that, I took a train to Calcutta, where I met with the guru that I’d studied with in New York, and I did morning lessons with him and practiced throughout the day. It was an incredible musical immersion experience.”

The band members all speak reverently of meditation and consciousness and the role it plays in their music (McGowen believes his introduction to it, spurred on in part by Wilbur and Muschler, saved his life), but equally close to their hearts are the environmental causes they champion. Moon Hooch tries to live up to their green ideals while traveling as much as possible, playing benefit shows, supporting local farmers and co-ops, participating in river cleanups, filming informative videos for their fans, and more. The band even runs a food blog, Cooking In The Cave, in which they highlight the healthy, sustainable, organic recipes they utilize with their mobile kitchen setup on tour.

For the members of Moon Hooch, commitments to consciousness and environmentalism and veganism and philosophy and peace aren’t separate from their commitment to music, but actually integral parts of it. It’s all tied into that same core approach that led to their discovery on the subway platform: try, even if it’s just a little bit every day, even if it’s just with the power of your mind, to make the world less like it is and more like you wish it could be.

“I’d say all of our songs express the essence of that kind of energy,” concludes McGowen, “because before you can even think any thoughts, there exists the energy that drives those thoughts, and that energy is intention. I feel like we’re putting the intention of positive change constantly into our music. While we’re playing, I often see the future emerging: skyscrapers getting covered in plants, frowns turning into smiles, fistfights into hugs. I can see the energy of love and collaboration and trust replace the energy of fear, hatred and violence.”

It’s an ambitious vision, to be sure, but considering the band’s track record at turning their thoughts and dreams into action and reality, perhaps it’s only a matter of time.
Jaw Gems
Jaw Gems
Jaw Gems, an electronic outfit from Portland, Maine, is a collective of young, experimental producers bringing beat-music – traditionally programmed and played on samplers – to a live band setting. The mesmerizing result is a harmonic convergence.

Combine legendary beat-makers like J Dilla and Flying Lotus with indie rock and electronic icons like Deerhunter and Washed Out, then add Radiohead’s dreamy ambience and you begin to approach the sound of Jaw Gems. Electronic musician, Daedelus says “Jaw Gems have done the magic trick of delivering a thoroughly listenable instrumental album that you can also sing along to.”

“Dilla is the common thread for how we all met and began playing together,” says keyboardist Hassan Muhammad. “Not many people in Portland knew about him seven years ago, so through various friends we were all pointed out to each other and we were blessed with the opportunity to hold a weekly residency at a bar, playing all the stuff we liked and getting increasingly weird.”

Since their start in 2009, the band has been exploring sonic and rhythmic ideas that emphasize interlaced melodies and heavy grooves. First outfitted solely with dueling vintage synthesizers, a drummer, and an electric bassist, Jaw Gems have now incorporated a Roland sp404 and the Juno 106 analog synth, going on to employ the beat- repeating, sample-warping technologies of the present to help create their wall of sound. Armed with new gear, Jaw Gems were able to evolve their beats, trigger intricate samples, and alter sounds in an increasingly advanced way. “You can do so much with these devices, and we all have our own ways of using them,” says bassist Andrew Scherzer.

In August of 2016, Jaw Gems delivered their second album, HEATWEAVER, via STS9’s 1320 Records. The 14-tracks create a thickly layered transcendental auditory world – a meticulously crafted collection grounded in a modern electronic aesthetic. HEATWEAVER melds neck-breaking, hip-hop synthesizers and nostalgic atmospheres, while simultaneously touching on elements of psychedelic funk, neo-soul, and punk rock. Jaw Gems likes to keep their recording process relaxed to allow for creative diversity.

Now, after catching the attention of acclaimed Alpha Pup Records, Jaw Gems re-released HEATWEAVER on the label this on October 13, 2017, with additional remixes of every track. This re-release features flips from T3 (Slum Village), Daedelus, Brady Watt (Talib Kweli/DJ Premier), THE GRID (Jon Cleary Band), Break Science, Russ Liquid Test, and more. Expect Jaw Gems’ next full-length album on Alpha Pup Records in the coming months, as well.

In addition to national tours, and landing their dream record deal, other recent Jaw Gems’ highlights include shared stages with icons such as My Morning Jacket, Flying Lotus at L.A’s legendary Low End Theory (FlyLo’s first appearance at the famed L.A. beat scene event in years), STS9, Lettuce, and many more.

Visit JAWGEMS.COM to join their mailing list and stay in the loop about upcoming tour dates.
Venue Information:
State Theatre
609 Congress St
Portland, ME, 04101
http://www.statetheatreportland.com/