4/22/16 – Brighton Music Hall

It made sense that MOTHXR’s moody, 80’s synthpop served as the opener for electropop act Polica. MOTHXR sound is bottled up in a can of PBR&B– the Brooklyn band draws comparisons to James Blake and The Neighbourhood.

Lead singer Penn Badgley was quick to prove his pipes, belting out “I just don’t need it” with opening song “Stranger.” “Centrefold” shortly followed, ending with vocals that swelled to fill Brighton Music Hall.

At times, there was a hint of the seductive, smooth sound of the likes of Rhye, with soaring falsettos on “Wild Ride.” But too often, the instrumentals insisted on drowning out the vocals. It didn’t help that his words were already hard to discern– any opportunities for connecting with the audience through meaningful lines were lost in the garbled, underwater conversation that was MOTHXR’s lyrics.

Though the album is clearly backed by electronic beats, it was disappointing to see the dummer sit behind Polica’s drum set, only to tap out rhythms on the drum pads. It was hard to believe the overpowering pound of the bass drum sounds that shook Brighton Music Hall came from a black rubber instrument smaller the size of an iPad. Sometimes you just want to see the drum kit get a good bashing.

MOTHXR is still a new band, and from their interactions, it was obvious. The bassist lurked in the corner. At one point, the guitarist came over to jam out with the drummer before making a quick retreat. Badgley kept his distance from the audience, as if the edge of the stage was decorated with red carpet barrier ropes. (Instinct from his Gossip Girl days and being swarmed with fangirls, perhaps?)

Halfway through the set Badgley said, “We’re gonna play fucking rock now.”

Drummer and drum kit reunited to give “Victim” a bigger, brasher sound. With no saxophones on hand, MOTHXR swapped out the woodwind instrument with a guitar solo. Though somewhat tame for a rock song, it was a noticeable effort to differentiate the live performance from the recording.

The rocking didn’t last long; Bagdley soon returned to his breathy falsetto. “Eaaa-sy / Don’t try to push it cause we’re in” he sang.

A twenty-something bobbed his head as looked down at his phone, his eyes decorated with a smarter of glittery sparkles as he waited for Polica to come onstage.

A strobing set of blue flashes lit the stage.

MOTHXR made a swift exit.

Apathetic Synth-Pop: MOTHXR
PROS
  • Impressive falsetto
  • Rocking guitar solo stands in for lack of sax
CONS
  • Minimal audience interaction
  • Band seemed apathetic
5.8Overall Score

2 Responses

  1. yes

    WAKE UP CALL FOR PENN BADGLEY STOP THIS !!!! JUST GO BACK TO ACTING!!! EARN A LOT OF MONEY AND HAVE A CLEAN HAIR CUT!!! WE MISS YOU IN SCREEN!!!

    Reply

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