After more than a decade of sold-out Halloween cover shows at the Fox, Aggie, Ogden and other reputable Colorado venues, local funk powerhouse the Motet finally headlined the Fillmore Auditorium in Denver on Saturday. Billed as a Lifted and Legal 420 celebration featuring DJ Mikey Thunder, the Soul Rebels and Ozomatli, the night brought a loving end to a day brazenly celebrated by so many in the city.
Los Angeles outfit Ozomatli had the dance floor moving early with their signature Latin flair and non-stop energy. The funk-filled set saw almost all seven members contribute on vocals and percussion while featuring standout melodica playing by Ulises Bella. The band ended with the catchy “After Party” before marching off stage in a conga line that snaked around the auditorium.
The Motet’s performance was a dynamic showcase of a band known for their top-tier musicianship and unwavering love of funk classics. In addition to sit-ins by the Soul Rebel Horns, Steve Watkins (Juno What) and Dominic Lalli (Big Gigantic), the band played behind their largest lighting rig to date. Lasers and projections accented six large 3D mapping triangles that brought a new level of production to an already stellar cast.
Driven by the metronome of a rhythm section in drummer Dave Watts and bassist Garrett Sayers, the first set brought an exciting mix of originals off the band’s last studio effort “Dig Deep” (Nemesis, Expensive Shit) while also debuting a handful of new tracks off a soon to be released album. All agreed–it’s going to be good.
After a brass-filled take of the Grateful Dead’s “The Music Never Stopped” and the Talking Heads classic “Girlfriend is Better,” front man Jans Ingber finally turned to the topic of the day. “Nature is not and should never be illegal. Colorado you made that happen!” A marijuana medley ensued that included Peter Tosh’s “Legalize It” and the sultry vocals of Kim Dawson on Rick James’ “Mary Jane.”
The show ended with yet another medley from the band’s last Halloween run playing Parliament Funkadelic favorites. A “Shakedown Street” sing-a-long encore had the crowd in a frenzy, while Joey Porter’s talk-box solo turned the track into a disco anthem reminiscent of his retro Juno What side project. When the music stopped well into the morning, it was hard not to feel the sustained passion between the band and their local family of fans. It moved Ingber to note, “We got a community here people! We love you!”
Nate Etter is a Boulder-based musician and a regular contributor to Reverb. You can reach him at Nate@EcoVessel.com.
Evan Semón is a Denver freelance writer and photographer and regular contributor to Reverb. See more of his work.