It was near the tail end of its Wednesday night performance that the full power of Motopony was realized. Frontman Daniel Blue stepped away from the mic as keyboard player Buddy Ross grinded out a lurching groove line and began dancing with himself. Head down, twitching, kicking and twirling, the sandy-haired soulful singer was possessed by his band’s brand of crude R&B. The crowd was right there with him.
Opening for the infinitely infectious Nightgowns at City Arts’ bimonthly meet-and-greet night, Feedback, this was Motopony’s coming-out party of sorts. Though the band has played a handful of shows in Seattle throughout the last few months, this performance was the first since Blue announced publicly that he had moved to Capitol Hill from Tacoma, his home for the last seven years. Conscious of the evening’s weight, Blue chose to don a T-shirt printed with the 253 Heart, a logo he designed and disseminated while living in Tacoma. It was on his acoustic guitar as well.
Blue played that guitar sparingly throughout the night, however, leaving the instrumentation to his able band mates: Ross – playing a Rhodes keyboard stacked with a Moog synthesizer – Brantley Cady on guitar and Thomas Williams on drums.
The singer’s instrument of choice was his body. He used it ably, punctuating his lyrics with a swoop of the hand or kick throughout a set that included “King of Diamonds” and “Seer” from the band’s self-titled debut release, and the recently recorded “Wait for Me,” which had the caustic and beautiful Anna Lynne Williams (of Trespassers William) joining the band on stage.
When Blue wasn’t moving, he was addressing the microphone with full attention, having, at times, the wide-eyed look of a man on the edge of salvation. Paired with the singer’s mix of faux Southern twang and a jarring, though well-controlled vibrato that finds its greatest analog in Billie Holiday, Blue had the packed crowd in the palm of his hand through to the end.
Surely a few left wondering what a 206 Heart might look like?
Photos by Peter Kearns
Motopony plays Jazzbones in Tacoma on May 8; and Chop Suey in Seattle on May 25.