NXNE Review: Motherhood29 June 2016 / by Jonathan Rodil (author)
At one point during Motherhood’s set, Penelope Stevens, who on keys, vocals and bass, slyly mentioned something along the lines of not knowing what it was like to be in Toronto even though they had played here in 2011, since they didn’t remember what they did then. This time around at Lee’s Palace, surely would serve as more of a lasting impression for the band and those in attendance, as the band ripped through a multitude of styles that might be seen as bewildering on paper – like a murder blues, alt-country thing, but actually works upon hearing it, especially in a live setting.
All three players, Stevens, Brydon Crain, on vocals and guitar, with Adam Sipkema on percussion, had an ability to switch on the fly, a chameleonic quality that can be attributed how they pulled off their wild fusing of genres. It was a uniformly played set that bounced around with several configurations of instruments, playing with keys, no keys, and changes in guitars. Throughout their set, you can find something that was slower, more sing-songy and twangy, and afterwards, there would be a caustic, spaz out on guitars. This brought about a sense of wondering what intriguing direction they take for the next song. They played material off their newest release Baby Teeth and this proved to be exemplary of how wide ranging their music can be. Their single “No-Please” was a short freewheeling track that had a droopy organ roll which showed their experimental folk side. Along their set, was also something from the new record, which had a sludgy, grimy punk sound that was a standout, bringing to mind that if they wanted to, they could make a record full of that and it wouldn’t feel out of touch.
Motherhood ended their set with “Tommy Toothless,” a short and sweet track that was lighter than the others, but still maintained that reckless, strange dark undertone in the music. Alt-country, art punk, experimental hard rock are just few labels that may be placed on the band, but they don’t seem to be striving for anything concrete and this appeared to be the case for their set at Lee’s. Hopefully it won’t be as long until their next set in Toronto as this was an surprisingly impressive outing that left an lasting affect on the audience and maybe this will be something that the band will remember a bit more clearly on their next go-around in the city.