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October-November 2014 Relix Magazine Sampler: TR3 Featuring Tim Reynolds - In The Zone
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Flying Solo with The Motet

by Laura Goldfarb on May 27, 2014

It's 8:30 on Friday night. I check my phone for the seventh time in two minutes and sigh, reluctantly accepting that I've been stood up. New Year's resolutions creep in -- something like, "Say yes and enjoy the mother f*cking ride.” (“Kiss more people,” is the other one, but we’ll save that story for another time.) So far they’ve led me on this wild, lustful whim three thousand miles from where I currently call home. There’s a ticket to The Motet waiting for me at the Brooklyn Bowl, but no date. For the next thirty minutes my motivation and confidence excitably wavers. "Can I fly solo?" Rationally, a silly question, but lately I’ve come to find that many of us have been there.

Male friends who find themselves on the fence have confided that they’re afraid of being “that guy.” You know, the creepy one in the corner, or the one who’s simultaneously brave enough to ask every solo girl if she wants to “take a walk” during set break. For my fellow ladies, it’s often a matter of safety and getting hit on, but not just by “that guy.” Fast forward to 9:52pm and I’m calculating my escape route from the self-proclaimed “lesbian who especially loves little bi-sexual brunettes.” She has her left hand on my waist and her vodka tonic in her right. Before the fuchsia lights hit the floor I thought she was aggressive but cute. Now I’m politely smiling, kicking myself for being so damn transparent and wishing this time I had said, “My husband is getting us beer.”

Rewinding, I throw caution, insecurity and fear of social awkwardness to the wind. I choose my love of the music, and take myself to Brooklyn. Still no husband nor date in sight, I momentarily curse the guy who left me hanging and buy myself a beer. (“How many beers can I have before I look like I have a drinking problem? Oh, shut up!” I say to myself.) On the surface I'm a mysterious chick who's badass enough to be here alone. Underneath I'm a doe eyed hot mess of anxiety and awkwardness, even before getting hit on.

However, within the first two minutes of the powerful, confidence-boosting “Like We Own It,” a Motet original off their new, self-titled album, the universe unveils its plan. Garrett Sayers' bass line seems to tickle the floor, and Jans Ingber takes a quick break from belting the evening's anthem to nonverbally teach the crowd that there's no wrong way to move. I take their lead and start what would later become, with the exception of my aforementioned escape, non-stop dancing. Admittedly, I’m pleasantly surprised by how much I prefer the freedom of bouncing around the room without worrying if I'd lose my date/husband/friends to the sea. Feeling downright silly but incredibly blissful, it occurs to me that I may be onto something here.

A few days after The Motet’s Brooklyn Bowl show, I hop on the phone with drummer Dave Watts. He reminisces about seeing jazz shows alone and I’m reminded of Saturday nights in high school, going to the Blue Note in New York City to catch Adam Deitch and Eric Krasno. Dave and I talk about the quiet audience at jazz shows compared to the dance-party vibe of concerts like The Motet’s, but ultimately come to a similar conclusion about the flying solo concert experience. “There are great things to experience in music alone, because you’re not distracted by who you’re with,” he says. “It can almost be a better experience because you can lose yourself in the music and not necessarily have to keep tabs on the social setting of what’s going on. That, for the artist, is the kind of audience that you want to have: people losing themselves in what is happening on stage and the energy of the room. We hope that it’s a cathartic experience, so you come out feeling like you were a different person than when you walked in.”

Dave Watts and I then dive into the heavy concept of being present in life, and use a live show as a magnified example. He expresses the artist side: “If you’re playing music that you're really familiar with many nights in a row, it can be easy to fall into autopilot. You have to consciously make an effort to stay focused on the music itself and what's happening so that you're open to the possibilities that are available to you at any moment.”

On the audience side, when we see live music we have the option to indulge in the social aspect, but it sometimes comes at the expense of truly being present and connected to what’s happening on stage and in the room. If we consciously make an effort to focus on the music as well, the payoff is great. “I think the relationship with the audience is reciprocal,” says Dave. “That's why The Motet responds so well to audiences that are really with us and reacting to our dynamic changes. That’s sort of a cycle in itself; the whole room resonates with that energy, allowing things to get a lot deeper.”

When asked what The Motet might say to someone who’s on the fence about flying solo to one of their shows, Dave Watts says, “Go for it! Ultimately I think the nature of the kind of music we play lends itself to a social environment, and our shows are not at all an awkward experience, especially as of late. Our audiences are growing, and the vibe at our shows is always very friendly and energetic.”


Back at the Brooklyn Bowl, Dave Watts notes that at a certain point the entire room is vibing out. He takes a moment to count his blessings; humbleness and gratitude flow through him. The look of contentment on Ryan Jalbert's face as he takes another intelligent guitar solo leads me to look around the room -- our community, together for a common love, passion and joy. I make eye contact with at least ten people, men and women, and before I have the chance to shyly look away, they all smile and raise their drinks or nod their heads in my direction. It's hard to believe I could have missed this.

Comments

I’ve been flying solo for more years than i can count (and i have a lot of them under my belt).  It’s that or don’t go, because I can never get anyone to go with me.  But i wouldn’t have missed it for the world!  It’s true about not having to keep up with your concert buddy and being free to just enjoy.  I have a tendency to tune out the rest of the room and just focus on the band on stage.  Sometimes it’s just them and I….

By Donna - 05/27/14

” Flying solo with the Motet, ” sucked me in for so many reasons. It was as if someone had recorded my thoughts and spit them out.  I go through a few head trips as someone who loves going to gigs, clubs, concerts solo.  I will no longer be a hot mess in my music nights alone world.  A well written article about life, bs ,and music. Very cool !!!

By Elaine Macaluso - 05/27/14

Good to know I’m not the only one.  I agree wholeheartedly, especially with gen admission shows, it is almost better to be solo so that you can “get lost” in the sea.  Great article!

By Joe Tall - 05/28/14

I agree! Why should I skip a show just because none of my friends are cool enough to come with me?

By Cj - 05/28/14

Really great writing. You nailed the Motet vibe.
Please come to the NYC MarchFourth Marching Band show 7/31 at the Watermark and write an article!!! come alone, or bring all of your friends!!!

By MarchFourth - 05/29/14

I’ve found that I end up flying solo more often than not. There’s nothing like being with friends at a show, but if you have to depend on your friends to be there you’ll miss a lot of good music. Shit, can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen The Motet alone, nor how many friends I’ve made at their shows!

By Ben - 05/29/14

being at a show with a great crew of friends is amazing but like the article says, there is something very unique about being there solo. I have so much love for everyone at a show (most of the time) but in all honestly, I could care less what they all think of me so it allows me to “be free” and really get into the tunes. With my close friends I can achieve that as well because I am comfortable with my relationships with them and myself- Your better off being stood up when it comes to seeing a show with some distant friend or someone you just met. Save the awkwardness for the park or something- you need to be in the right headspace let go at a show- When you get confused, just listen to the music play-

By steve b - 06/02/14

What a GREAT article! I’ve been the proud creepy guy in the corner for the last fifteen years. Why? Because the artists that get the 11PM set at the Hotel Cafe on a Tuesday night don’t think I’m creepy. They need the same thing we all do, each other. There are dozens of priceless moments that have added so much to my life, and many longstanding friendships that have formed along the way. My passion to support and encourage new artists (and they need it) far outweighs my lazy friends that opt out of living. My fear of being the creepy solo guy quickly gets overpowered by KNOWING, and not wondering, if the guy that just played his brains out until midnight to six people wouldn’t benefit from one creep telling him he kicked ass, breaking down his gear with him, buying up his stack of five dollar CDs and giving them to friends, leave a few at Starbucks, whatever, so he doesn’t have to bring them home again, and making sure he knew that it was a GREAT night for all. I’m too old to be that guy, and I drive way too far to be that guy over and over again, but I’m convinced that somewhere along the way it really mattered.  smile

By Pizzuti, the creepy one - 06/04/14

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