Mothxr at the Beat Kitchen: Bringing Chicago’s sounds to Chicago

Penn Badgley and Darren Will of Mothxr take a selfie with me. Penn Badgley and Darren Will of Mothxr take a selfie with me. Four-piece Brooklyn band Mothxr pounded through the Beat Kitchen Friday with a colorful synth and breezy vocals, following a set from opener Shah Jahan. Though Mothxr, “pronounced like the woman who made you (Instagram, Penn Badgley),” comes from Brooklyn, they record their sound with inspiration from cities across the country. Thanks to Kickstand Productions, Shah Jahan made for an appropriate opener, as their sound resembled that of The Who or The Beatles. There was contrast between the two bands, as the opener appealed to a crowd who preferred a more raw, 60s rock sound. Mothxr is Vocalist Penn Badgley (whom you might remember from the CW sensation, “Gossip Girl”, as Dan Humphrey, or my favorite, “Humphrey Dumpty”), Producer and Bassist Jimmy Giannopoulos, Keyboardist Darren Will and Guitarist Simon Oscroft. They take the atmosphere of the cities they visit and transform those qualities into sounds. Nylon Magazine quotes the band: “We’re turning knobs finding synth tones, no doubt reflecting our late-night drives around L.A. or the dregs of autumn in New York (or the claustrophobia of December in Chicago, where we mixed the record).” In fact, the synth beats they delivered at the Beat Kitchen during “Stranger” made it sound as if Penn Badgley’s vocals were calling and responding to the sirens of the LAPD. That urgent sound and lyrics juxtapose Badgley’s calm tones, creating a rhythm comparable to those found on Kavinsky's Outrun. Badgley’s inflection fluctuates throughout the band’s performance to deliver a sense of urgency, but lyrics like “She thinks she knows me/I don't give a fuck at all” tell us that the music is soothing to the band itself. Happily, Friday’s crowd had the opportunity to experience Mothxr’s live performance on a 90-degree night in Chicago. It isn’t just the claustrophobia of December that’s unique to us, but when the torrid summer nights inspire rolling down the window on Lake Shore Drive. Badgley surprised the crowd by periodically leaving the microphone and picking up the guitar to add a bounce, a soul and a groove to a few songs. His vocal range is wide, and he handles the microphone professionally, giving his voice that smooth-as-butter feeling. The entire performance felt like taking a ride down Lake Shore Drive. Check out Mothxr's debut album, Centerfold.
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Elif Geris