Motion City Soundtrack at Varsity Theater, 11/18/12
Photo by Youa Vang
Motion City Soundtrack
With Jukebox the Ghost, Now, Now, and Crash, Burn Repeat
Varsity Theater, Minneapolis
Sunday, November 18, 2012
Sunday evening at the Varsity Theater with Motion City Soundtrack can be summed up with: sweat, sadness, joy, and snow. The sold out venue hosted the Minneapolis darlings for the last night of the band's tour, bringing friends and hardcore fans together for a night of high-energy music. It was also a night where lead singer Justin Pierre was often drowned out by the crowd that sang along to every word of every song.
With a discography of five albums, there was no lack of hit songs to pick from for the band's set. Most Motion City albums are expertly crafted and produced, but the group's live show is where the magic happens, bringing an energy that has young teens and adults alike on their feet and jumping to the band's infectious sound. With the opening riffs of "Attractive Today," a classic MCS tune, the audience was more than ready to get down. Pierre once said that he often writes about his friends without asking their permission first, and although "Antonia" was not written about one particular person, the stream of lyrics such as "She shaves her legs with Ginsu knives, She quotes a lot of Annie Hall, She misplaced her virginity back in 1995" bring to mind a quirky, misguided girl that you can't help but love.
"Everything is Alright" subsequently followed by "L.G. FUAD" (Let's Get Fucked Up and Die) are anthem songs for the band's audience, both infused with stories/advice from someone who has lived a rough life without being preachy -- something that the band specializes at.
Photo by Youa Vang
Turning the energy knob down just a hair, Justin told the crowd, "So tonight is the end of our tour. It's so crazy, cause I can feel the sadness and joy," leading into "Happy Anniversary," a song written for his grandmother, Lucy. Prior to writing for the latest album Go, Pierre hopped on a plane based on a hunch, and saw Lucy on the last evening of her life, something that he says was "completely strange and eerie. Had I not got on that plane to see her, I never would have been able to experience this sad and beautiful thing." That haunted feeling drifts through the song, and embeds itself in the lyrics "I can feel you in my bones tonight."
"Happy Anniversary" was a piece that Justin had trouble singing until Sunday night, but he quickly brought it back to a lighter note for "A Life Less Ordinary," a lively song from My Dinosaur Life that highlights guitarist Josh Cain's guitar riffs and Jesse Johnson's walking keyboard chords that weave in and out of the song.
Pierre is candid about his alcoholism that took up a lot of his life in his 20s, and he often writes about lost loves that were perhaps from that time in his life. These love stories gone wrong have a redemptive quality to them, most especially because Justin has a clever way of wording them such as in "My Favorite Accident" and "Last Night." More redemption can be found in "Timelines" and "Everyone Will Die" from Go. While the whole album is very introspective, both pieces are prime examples of being able to look back on what you've done with your life and accepting it for what it is.
Stumbling over his introduction for "True Romance," the lead singer dedicated it to his girlfriend, Lindsay, that was in the crowd Sunday evening. The night seemed a little short for fans that knew every song played, and like a pack of hungry wolves, asked for more. Motion City threw in the driving "Disappear" and ended the regular set with their signature closing "The Future Freaks Me Out," complete with "snow" that floated down from the ceiling.
Photo by Youa Vang
Bringing back members of Jukebox the Ghost for their encore of a cover of Ben Folds Five's "Army," the added musicians brought another layer to the already full sound of MCS. During tours, Justin often eludes the crowd to save his voice for shows. But being the last night of the tour, the singer invited fans to hang out and said he would stay to talk to everyone until there was no one left -- even if he had to be outside to avoid the venue's hard curfew. Welcome home, boys.
Critic's bias: I can't recall how many times I have seen Motion City Soundtrack, but this was my first time reviewing a performance. If you have never seen a MCS show, I urge you to go. You will not be disappointed.
The crowd: Hardcore Motion City Soundtrack fans ready to party.
Overheard in the crowd: "The 'snow' is actually useful, cause it's soap and everyone's so sweaty. These people are getting a shower, whether they want one or not." - Mike Minehart
Random notebook dump: Justin Pierre summarizes Now, Now's sound by saying it reminds him of 1993 -- in a good way.
The Coma Kid
Everything Is Alright
A Life Less Ordinary
My Favorite Accident
Everyone Will Die
Her Words Destroyed My Planet
This Is For Real
The Future Freaks Me Out
Army (Ben Folds Five cover)
Hold Me Down
Get the Music Newsletter
Keep your thumb on the local music scene each week with music news, trends, artist interviews and concert listings. We'll also send you special ticket offers and music deals.