Hidden beneath the bows of the Northwest evergreens is found Flowmotion, one of Seattle’s most distinctly diverse rock bands. This is an act that fails to fall into an easily packaged genre, succeeds in defying stereotypes, and throws one hell of a party no matter what city, town or festival the five-piece band happens to land in.
Flowmotion is a name well known in the Seattle live music scene and becoming increasingly familiar up and down the West Coast, yet largely unheard of throughout much of the country. The band has managed to remain in the “best-kept-secret” vault of the live music scene, all the while honing a live show that often exceeds the size of the stage they might find themselves performing on. A Flowmotion show is a swooping ride through the fingers of rock fueled solely on the expert musicianship of its five parts, producing a sound that’s unmistakably huge.
The Flowmotion name has been in existence since 2001 under the creative eye of founder, guitarist and lead vocalist Josh Clauson – the only member of the band’s original lineup. At a time when the future of Flowmotion was uncertain, the front man found himself at a show featuring a Seattle-based (via Spokane) jazz fusion outfit called BeeCraft, he knew he’d found the sound he’d been searching for before the band even finished its set. It was only a matter of time before Clauson would envelope the entirety of BeeCraft into the Flowmotion lineup.
The most recent addition to the Flowmotion lineup came last year in the form of guitarist RL Heyer, who brought to the already talented band an arsenal of rock licks. While Flowmotion always had a multi-genre attack hidden in its quiver, Heyer’s skill set allows the band to transition from downright booty shaking funk to fist-pumping rock before the packed dance floor knows what hit them. When their show is in full swing, Clauson and Heyer’s guitars converse pleasantly and aggressively, often escalating to arena rock levels while at the same time creating the sort of soundscapes typically reserved for the likes of Pink Floyd.
It’s nearly impossible to mention the name Flowmotion in the Pacific Northwest without bringing forth a mention of Summer Meltdown, the annual music and camping festival the band has hosted for nearly a decade. As the years have slipped by, the band has watched the annual gathering grow from a backyard bash to one of the region’s most well-attended summer festivals – a celebration that’s expected to bring as many as 4,000 revelers to the foothills of the Cascade Mountains this summer. While Flowmotion has always been the headliner at the festival, they’ve also shared the stage with national bands including Bill Frisell, Vince Herman, Garaj Mahal, Zilla, Bassnectar, Yard Dogs Road Show. 2008’s lineup is the strongest to date featuring Tea Leaf Green, Buckethead, Everyone Orchestra, Blue Turtle Seduction, On the One, Delta Nove and 20 other of the Northwest’s favorite regional bands.
There are many music fans in the Northwest and beyond who will remember Flowmotion from their years of touring and festival appearances and expect the same band as they heard in the early part of this decade. While the spirit around which Clauson built the band is very much alive, the sound has evolved with Flowmotion incorporating more rock edginess without forgetting the dance floor grooves that have brought them this far. Whereas Clauson previously authored most of the Flowmotion repertoire, songwriting duties have since been delegated amongst the band resulting in set lists that skip across the spectrum reminding listeners of Zeppelin at some moments and Parliament at others.
It’s been a steady climb for Flowmotion over the past decade, but it seems like the Northwest is going to have to give up its secret and let everyone in on what Flowmotion brings to the table – and the dance floor.