Here are ten things I learned on a balmy August night at Portland’s foremost deli venue:
1. Daniel Blue has a fondness for fashion.
Perhaps overtly so. The self-made denim shorts, tie-dye shirt and red suspenders are not testifying well to his design sense. Yet, Motopony’s bright frontman founded 253heart in Tacoma years ago. That attention for details and clarity translates to a crispness in Motopony’s sound, despite Blue’s psychotic gazes into the audience.
2. Blue listens to psych-rock.
Or so his band must. The band strolled out to a multi-minute storm of effects and feedback as Blue sat and stretched for the forthcoming set. He drank several cups of water before
3. The keyboardist is crucial.
He stayed hidden for most of the set, sitting atop a teetering stack of instrument cases and amplifiers. But when the band plays “Seer,” the buzziest, foot-stomping-ist track on their self-titled record, he is the hero. His retro-tuned, soulful razzle dazzle is a delightful blend of the Black Keys and anthemic stadium rock.
4. This is better than a terminal.
Before touring with White Arrows, Motopony played four airport terminals. Southwest Airlines sponsored the tour, flying the band all over to play before bloodshot eyes and altitude-clogged ears. It’s an idea so bad I’m not really sure what to say about it.
5. Water is the new whiskey.
Daniel Blue has consumed about eight cups of water and has yet to make a pit stop. Somehow, he seems to be getting drunker.
6. “King of Diamonds” is a remarkable track.
From its bossa nova percussion, to its spirited bells and languid, slow-as-honey guitar work, “King of Diamonds” is the heart of Motopony’s debut record. Blue sings with raspy conviction—a stony tone that makes cliche metaphors involving poker actually seem quite real.
7. The sound here has improved, greatly.
Motopony’s softness isn’t the greatest test, but Bunk Bar has remedied whatever electrical storm sent surges of feedback and static through every song of the last show I saw there. When White Arrows try out its raw, jagged, sedated form of punk a bit later and nothing smokes or explodes, I know it’s true.
8. That’s not how you make a Negroni, barkeep.
The bartender fails to add Vermouth and there’s a serious lack of Campari. I should have ordered a water.
9. Motopony is hope.
There’s comfort in the fact that Daniel Blue didn’t pick up a guitar until he turned 27. Our era is one of multiple careers, and Motopony’s strength amongst artists almost a decade their junior is refreshing. This is especially the case for similar-aged individuals with drum kits in their basements who may or may not be writing this review.
10. There will be more Motopony.
Fist Tacoma, then Seattle, then KEXP, then KCRW. The band is balanced and well-poised, riding deserved acclaim and the cool gusts of newfound alt-label TinyOgre (Klaxons, Madi Diaz).