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Saint Motel stops in Tampa for first Florida performance

by Alex Butler

Birthday cakes, shots, and dance circles were just a few of the components to Saint Motel’s show at the Orpheum in Tampa that made it a  personalized performance. With the Orpheum being the smallest venue on the tour, the Tampa audience got an intimate concert experience. 

Band members include lead singer AJ Jackson, guitarist Aaron Sharp, bassist Dak Lerdamornpong, drummer Greg Erwin and touring members Fabian Chavez and Zach Ramacier. 

While on tour for their new Extended Play (EP) The Original Motion Picture Soundtrack Pt. 1, the show in Tampa on Monday, Feb. 3 was the band’s first time touring in Florida. 

 “We’re going to take you on an adventure through your imagination,” said lead singer AJ Jackson. “We’re going to need you to open up your mind and your heart.”

 The name of the EP was fully put on display as the concert held five scenes that intertwined each section of songs with their own unique thematic display. Complete with a narrator, costume changes, and boxes of popcorn with the band’s logo, the entire performance was portrayed as its own motion picture.

 The first scene was entitled “Everest,” with Jackson performing in a full coat and opening with the hit song “Cold Cold Man,” which has over 64 million listens on Spotify. 

 After the opening song, the band quickly set the tone for the rest of the show. 

 “We’ve got a lot of family in here, a lot of friends,” said Jackson. 

 He then proceeded to have everyone in the crowd introduce themselves to the person next to them before continuing the show with their signature vibrant mix of brass and electronics. Performing “For Elise,” “Sweet Talk,” and “Sisters,” Jackson made it a point to continue the family theme and introduce the audience to his own sister who was also in the crowd. 

 Saint Motel’s motion picture took a darker turn in the second scene labeled “Military March.” Jackson came back on stage dressed in a military uniform surrounded by red lighting, fiery graphics, and performed songs “Dear Dictator” and “Destroyer.” Both songs held heavier lyrics, more prominent bass and growling guitar when compared to their usual bright toned pieces. 

 The original “feel good” mood was reinstated in the later part of the second scene and lasted for the rest of the show after Jackson explained, “It got a little dark there for a second…we need that feeling of love again.” The crowd then continued to echo back the words to songs “Puzzle Pieces” and “Move.” 

 Throughout the performance, Jackson was not the only member of the band who was front and center. With much of their music being heavily influenced by saxophone and trumpet input, saxophonist Fabian Chavez and trumpeter Zach Ramacier held plenty of solos in nearly every scene of the show. Particularly, in songs such as “Save Me” from the band’s new EP and “Born Again” from their 2016 album saintmotelevision.

 The focus on family and friends along with close up audience interaction became essential to the atmosphere of the concert. At one point, Jackson created a dance circle in the middle of the crowd, brought out a cake for his mother’s birthday, and personally danced with several audience members. The energy in the crowd reflected the enthusiasm of the band. 

 “It was incredible, it was the greatest experience of my life so far,” said fan, Lily Sanders.  

 The show ended with the majority of the audience dancing around the venue to the band’s number one song on Spotify “My Type” as Jackson also walked around the building dancing with fans, singing, and taking shots on top of the bar. 

 The final “Goodbye” scene consisted of the narrator reflecting a previous sentiment from Jackson about experiencing something that cannot be recreated and being a part of something a little bigger than ourselves.

 Saint Motel continued their first Florida tour in Orlando the following evening before traveling to Atlanta, the North Eastern United States, and Europe. 

Alex Bulter can be reached at alexandra.butler@spartans.ut.edu

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