The precise, jam-centric funk favored by Boulder, Colorado’s The Motet might not seem like a natural complement to the dark imagery of Halloween but in the Denver area, the band’s special cover shows are as much a Halloween tradition as trick-or-treating. The Motet have been playing these cover concerts in Boulder and Denver for over a decade now, but unlike past years when they’ve focused on the work of a single artist or band, The Motet picked a specific year for their “Mixtape 1975” shows that took place last week. That year’s shaggy mix of disco, soul and psych-rock provided the perfect platform for The Motet’s strengths as first-rate musicians with a decidedly dance-friendly ethos.
Joined by special guests Paul Creighton and Camille Armstrong on vocals, The Motet certainly looked the part of disco radicals at their Saturday night set at Denver’s Ogden Theatre, as their costumes and outfits perfectly reflected the groovy fashion of the era. After an overly-long 90 minute set by DJ Mikey Thunder, The Motet greeted the somewhat restless crowd around 10:45 and did their damnedest to make them forget about the delay. It worked: by the time they launched into their second song -- a fiery version of Commodores’ “Brickhouse” -- their infectious funk chops had erased any lingering animosity from those who took the show’s announced 9 p.m. start time literally.
Both halves of the show’s title proved apt, as “Mixtape 1975” not only showcased many of the biggest songs from that year, but flowed like a well-curated mix. After showcasing each of the member’s individual virtuosity with an extended jam on “Jungle Boogie” (Joey Porter was especially strong all night on the clavinet), The Motet proved their range by launching into a stellar version of the Pink Floyd classic “Have A Cigar” and wrapped the first half of their set with David Bowie’s “Fame,” a natural connector between all three songs.
The Motet bookended their looser, more improvisational second set with a pair of Earth Wind and Fire songs (fitting given that band’s Colorado connection): the ebullient “Shining Star” and the groove-heavy “Sing A Song.” Due to the show’s structure, the second set of slightly more obscure songs fused together in a delirious blur but the crowd clearly never tired of shaking their groove thing.
Speaking of that crowd, one of the supplementary benefits to The Motet’s Halloween shows are the creative costumes worn by fans. Check out some of the best from the Way to Grow photo booth above, courtesy of Tobin Voggesser.
Earlier this week, The Motet announced a Red Rocks show scheduled for June 5, 2015. For fans of the ferociously funky band, it’s not too soon to start making next year's Halloween plans as well.