As the long hand of the giant projected clock behind Saint Motel’s set neared midnight on Saturday, May 21, 2011, AKA “Judgment Day,” I held my breath while witnessing the onstage commotion. Something about the tenacity in Reverend Childs’ voice as he preached to the audience alarmed me.
“The moment of truth is here!” he bellowed. “Are you one of our believers or not? Who’s with Jesus?”
Saint Motel, the sweaty reverend, a man dressed as “Jesus” and the audience counted down, and nothing happened.
|"Jesus" and Reverend Childs await an end that doesn't come.|
“I’ve spent over forty years studying the Bible, figuring out when Judgment Day is,” says Reverend Childs in Part One of Saint Motel’s Judgment Day series on YouTube. Adding, “So when people ask me what’s going to happen if they wake up on May 22nd, uh, all I have to say is they won’t.” And then he unwraps and starts sucking on a large frozen treat.
His reaction as the clock struck midnight was anticlimactic and incredibly disappointing. A brief expression of defeat consumed his face and body as he lowered his arms; he then turned and walked offstage. And we all woke up on Sunday alive sans assessment.
Surprisingly zero Judgment Day protesters or advocates barked outside of The Roxy Theatre during Saturday night’s festivities. And the audience paid no mind to the possibility of being “raptured.” Fans arrived for the music, be it the opening bands – Queen Caveat, The Hundred Days, Vanaprasta – or the headliner, Saint Motel. All three openers impressed.
Vanaprasta best impressed, entrancing and stimulating the crowd with their unpredictable tempos and unique stage presence. Unlike Saint Motel, who actively engages the audience, each of the five Vanaprasta members perform within their own worlds, rarely conversing with each other. Cameron Dmytryk, guitar, jumped into the crowd (without guitar) during one song, and Steven Wilkin, lead vocals and keyboard, bent down on his knees a couple times to wail to the front row. Side note: Wilkin strongly resembles Joaquin Phoenix during his I’m Still Here days.
Saint Motel, an indie rock/pop band from L.A., commands attention during their shows. A/J Jackson, lead vocals and guitar (and keyboard on “Puzzle Pieces”), stepped onstage wearing a white shirt that read, “End of World 100% Guaran-Ti,” spelled out in thin black tape. His back read, “Project Caravan.” Was he mocking the cause? Probably. A. Sharp, lead guitar, was born to strum six strings and was happily consumed by his performance. It was also his birthday. The bassist, Dak, danced with his instrument while belting out backing vocals. While drummers are practically invisible in some bands, Greg Erwin is not. He smiles, mouths the lyrics and stands up to clap and beat his sticks.
|Saint Motel at the Roxy.|
Aside from their individual dynamics, Saint Motel builds an experience for the audience. Each mic was strapped with a small video camera, capturing a slightly overhead angle of each musician. Projected behind Erwin was black-and-white footage inter-cut with random video, possibly their self-produced music videos. The “Jesus” man, who was rather convincing in his fatherly garb and long brown mane, a man wearing an Iron Man mask, and a blonde sidekick dressed in a resplendent gold shirt and black daisy dukes hopped onstage during one of the last songs and showered the audience with condoms. The point of these offerings remains unclear, and so does Jackson’s performance involving a lighter, which he then tossed into the audience.
White LED lights hung from the stage’s back wall, adding a nice, warm touch to their set. It was sort of like Christmas, but instead of waiting for Santa Claus and presents, you were waiting for the apocalypse.
|Lead singer A/J Jackson sports an end of the world homemade tee.|
|Bassist Dak smiles sublimely.|
|A/J rocks out.|
|Saint Motel gets crazy onstage.|