First off, their name. I don’t dislike it because it’s lame, but because it looks like they ripped off The GO! Team (Note the use of the word “GO”, note the similar use of exclamation points). Who had the idea first? I have to believe it was the band from England, who are quickly becoming a worldwide phenomenon (Don’t believe me? Check out their mini-documentary on their myspace page or see them when they drop by Sokol Underground July 31, wedging dirty ol’ Omaha between Red Rocks and Lollapalooza).
I can hear what you’re thinking: The name of a band is inconsequential. Ah, but it isn’t, especially if the band intends to make a name for itself outside of Omaha, and judging from what I’ve heard so far, this band has the potential to do that. If they tour larger cities, they will be harangued about their name from music writers who know what’s going on in the indie scene.
Ironically, the fact that their name appears to be lifted from another band seems appropriate, since GO! Motion takes styles from a variety of bands and mashes them into something that sounds exactly like something you’ve heard before. Part of the fun is picking out their references. The vocals? Pure Robert Smith circa Boys Don’t Cry (one patron was agog over the similarity, especially considering that frontman Albert Kurniawn is Asian and speaks with a charming Asian twang). The guitars? Hmmm… early U2 circa Boy or War, maybe The Alarm or Midnight Oil — just fill in your favorite post-punk band from the ’80s whose guitars featured tons of delay. The overall style? Underground dance, in an upbeat Interpol vein, definitely VHS or Beta (but with less Duran Duran overtones), certainly retro. You getting the picture?
All that said, I liked what I heard from the five-piece, though the mix was muddy, jumbled, with entirely too much low-end. GO! Motion prides itself as a dance band, driven by fast backbeat drums and throbbing bass. Their charm comes from both the soaring guitar lines and Albert’s Cure-esque vocals, as well as his endearing between-song patter. He wants to see you dance. Really! But only a handful of the 100 or so did (This is Omaha, remember?). So desperate was he to generate a dance party vibe that he invited some of the girls in the crowd to join them on stage for the last song — always a cheesy moment, always a mistake because the chosen girls never know what to do and end up looking like a pack of strippers.
At the end of the set, the band gave away copies of their new CD, Kill the Love — a marketing ploy that’s becoming more and more common these days. Might as well put the music in the peoples’ hands and let word of mouth do the rest (if the music is any good, that is). The CD sounds way better then last night’s live set, probably because it was recorded at Smart Studios in Madison and Blacklodge down in Eudora, and superstar engineer Doug Van Sloun mastered it. The CD allows you hear all the little parts that you missed during the muddy live performance, even The Faint-inspired synth riffs (Fun, but ultimately a mistake that wasn’t replicated on stage).
There are a lot of bands doing this sort of rock-dance these days (VHS or Beta, Interpol, Franz Ferdinand, etc.). GO! Motion belongs in the conversation. The only thing that could hold them back is their inability to distance themselves from their influences, allowing them to reveal their own unique voice. There is a voice in there, somewhere, waiting to get out. Until then, GO! Motion will be content just trying to get you to dance, and that isn’t such a bad thing… Now if they could just do something about that name…
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