SAINT MOTEL AT UNION TRANSFER: Turning Pop Rock into Religion
  • MONDAY, OCTOBER 24, 2016

  • Posted by: Abigail Raymaker

Just one day after releasing their latest album, Saint Motelevision, indie-pop band Saint Motel stopped by Union Transfer in Philly with Hippo Campus and Weathers.

Saint Motel formed back in 2007 when lead vocalist and guitarist AJ Jackson met the classically-trained Aaron Sharp (who now plays guitar in the band). Elements of jazz, glam-rock, and pop comprise their unique sound, similar to many rising indie-pop/dream-pop bands like Walk the Moon, Smallpools, Magic Man, and St. Lucia but with a touch of jazz and a flair for the dramatic.

Before Saint Motel's set, crew members dressed in all black lugged an unwieldy color television onto the stage. A large decal of a woman in a white one-piece swimsuit with long blonde hair is hung from the back curtain -- she appears to be diving upward into the bright blueish lights that stream down from the rafters.



The lights go down and the television turns on and plays a short reel of old news clips about outer space as the audio blasts through the venue's speakers. It creates a brief sense of intimacy as a thousand necks crane inward to watch a small television together.

The broadcast is over and Jackson emerges wearing a black brimmed hat, red collared shirt, and black vest. His thick black glasses reflect the bright stage lights, and his shoulder-length hair is pulled back in a ponytail that only does half its job, strings of mousy brown hair hanging out on either side. Their first song is off the new album, "Local Long Distance Relationship (LA2NY)" and showcases Jackson's ability to effortlessly glide into his falsetto and back during the chorus. The beginning of their set is a bit sleepy, but as the set progresses through their past discography peppered with Saint Motelevision tracks, the band's energy bolsters and the audience follows suit. The little color television sits center stage and flashes lyrics and visuals, and when Saint Motel finally performs the crowd favorite "Move," the first single off of Saint Motelevision, the word "JUMP!" flashes on screen. The audience obliges. The band leaves the stage after "Move," and the combination of an audience still buzzing with excitement and a median age of fourteen in the first few rows of the crowd allows a steady collective scream to sustain itself for about four minutes straight.

Saint Motel return for an encore with their hit "My Type," rebel heartbreaker's anthem "Destroyer," and "Born Again." Halfway through "Born Again," Jackson gives a spoken interlude about having "cleaned up and found Jesus" as he climbs onto the television. As the crowd reaches for him and he spreads his arms in an elevated embrace, the scene is redolent of a prophet and his followers.

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