O.penVAPE Tour Delivers High Times with Keller Williams and the Motet

The Motet have been rocking Denver for over a decade and have seen a rise in national touring and prominence over the past few years, synchronistically mirroring the rise of legal cannabis or so it seems.
The Motet

There was a festive vibe in the air as the 2015 O.penVAPE Tour launched in Southern California at the end of January. A co-headlining show featuring longtime jamrock stalwart Keller Williams and rising funk phenoms in the Motet, the tour also celebrates one of the winners of 2014’s culture wars — the cannabis oil vape pen. “Vape” was in fact the Oxford Dictionary word of the year for 2014, as the popularity of the personal vaporizer pen skyrocketed in the wake of the booming legal cannabis industry in Colorado.

The Denver-based O.penVAPE company has been the leading manufacturer and distributor of the personal vape pens and cannabis oil cartridges that have become increasingly popular in medical marijuana states like California. It was rather ironic then that their products had become next to impossible to find in San Diego in the early part of 2015, as the company had apparently parted ways with their previous Southern California distributor. Whether or not they’ll be able to hold that top spot is one of the more intriguing questions for cannabis consumers and entrepreneurs in 2015, as a slew of competitors have popped up to challenge for market share.

Some vape aficionados claim that O.penVAPE’s cannabis oil is too watered down and lacks the potency of certain competitors, while others like the product just the way it is and remain enthusiastic fans. Only time will tell, but O.penVAPE remains the leading brand name in the business for now and has clearly helped revolutionize the cannabis industry. The company’s stylish VW microbus was out front of the venue, where fans could take promo pictures before entering the venue to pick up swag like t-shirts, koozies and stickers.

“We are so stoked to be a part of this”, Motet vocalist Jans Ingber enthused during his band’s set. And why not? The Motet have been rocking Denver for over a decade and have seen a rise in national touring and prominence over the past few years, synchronistically mirroring the rise of legal cannabis or so it seems. What better ambassadors then to hit the road with a Denver-based vape company to promote good music and high times? The Motet packed Winston’s Beach Club in San Diego’s Ocean Beach area last year, so moving on to the larger Belly Up Tavern up the coast was another sign of the band’s growing popularity.

Williams opened the show with a 90-minute set of his patented one-man band groovy jams. He’s toured and/or played with a who’s who of the jamrock scene over the past 15 years, making him one of the most recognizable hippie troubadours in the world and something of an undeclared spokesman for the scene. It was his “Gatecrashers Suck” that gave a proper tongue lashing to the out-of-control freaks that infamously stormed the back wall at the Grateful Dead’s July ’95 show at the Deer Creek Ampitheater in Indiana, causing the next day’s show to be cancelled on what turned out to be the band’s final tour. Williams therefore sings with a well-earned moral credibility and almost always throws a Dead song or two into his sets.

The Dead’s “Til the Morning Comes” was in fact an early highlight, receiving some extra jammy psychedelic treatment as Williams displayed his virtuous guitar skills to open up the song. The classic “Doobie in My Pocket” was an appropriate selection, a charming tale of panic in an airport security line because Williams forgot he had a joint that a fan had given him and feared it might be found.This segued masterfully into Tom Petty’s “You Don’t Know How it Feels”, which celebrates the same topic with the classic line, “Let’s get to the point, let’s roll another joint”. “Portapotty Line” continued on the loose theme, with Williams singing of falling in love with a girl while in the line together at a festival. The set continued to build in energetic style with “Best Feeling”, a Keller song popularized during his collaborations with the String Cheese Incident. The set came to a rousing finish on the Dead’s anthemic “Scarlet Begonias”, a perennial fan favorite.

Big jams like that from Williams would normally cap a headlining performance, but here the night was not even half over as the Motet followed with a two-hour set of funktastic tunes that kept the dance party going late into the night. The band’s sound is dedicated to the retro funky stylings of the ‘70s, yet enhanced with a more modern jamming sensibility that’s evolved through the years as Denver has staked its claim as one of the top music scenes in the nation.

“123” from the band’s self-titled 2014 album revved the room up with a swaggering groove that featured tight horn blasts and Herbie Hancock-style electric piano. The Belly Up’s disco ball was swirling and the good times were rolling. Guitarist DJ Williams from Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe materialized for a stellar guest performance, sitting in to help the band rock out on “Cut the Cake”. Williams fit right in and shredded a smoking solo to propel the jam higher as the positive vibrations soared. Keller Williams soon re-appeared as well for a guest vocal on the Beatles’ “Drive My Car”, leading the band into a crowd-pleasing jam that featured a spacey yet melodic psychedelia. Another hot jam featured a tight foray into Kool and the Gang’s classic “Jungle Boogie”, where the Motet showed what an ace ensemble they truly have become.

Whether O.penVAPE will remain a force in the legal cannabis world remains to be seen, but teaming up with the likes of Keller Williams and the Motet seems like an auspicious step in the right direction.