19th-20th April 2012
Motion City Soundtrack – Two Nights, Four Albums
Greeted with an almighty queue at XOYO we were slightly surprised to find a packed basement venue, a whole lot smaller than anticipated. Quite frankly it’s tiny for a band of Motion City Soundtrack standard. It did however make us feel rather lucky that we had tix to such a special series of shows. Two Nights, Four Albums, a titanic feat, only attempted once before in their hometown of Minneapolis MA. Being able to witness one of my favourite bands up so close playing every song they have committed to LP was a classic in the making.
Arriving spritely, their first set comprised of a pretty manic run of album number 1, I Am The Movie. A predominantly upbeat, punked album full of euphoric sing-alongs, huge electro hooks and contagious guitars. They had a lot to get through so lead singer Justin Pierre barely paused for the now customary (at such events) insider tit bits on the songs. Something he later fessed up as being because he had no idea what they were originally about. One of the only comments I can recall were that he wanted to get the words no-stick frying pan into a song. This goes some way to explaining their fun outlook and ridiculous lyrics.
Early material which best stood the test of time were the signature single The Future Freaks Me Out, exhilarating electro Don’t Call It A Comeback and joyous straight up pop punked Red Dress.
Motion City Soundtrack
Being one of our long term favourite albums here at DiR.net Commit This To Memory, part 2 of 4 was never going to be anything but stratospheric. With greater songwriting prowess and upped pop swagger, these songs mixed up synths, heartfelt verse, attacking power chords and more nonsensical lyrics to up the ante once more. This album showed a lot more of their sombre side with an influx of semi-ballads such as the lyrical conundrums of LGFUAD and the melodramatic Resolution. Best of the rest included the spritely Everything Is Alright and synth loaded Time Turned Fragile.
Singer Justin was clearly revealing in being amongst his admirers, although after stating he’s sticking around to meet everyone (both nights), he added that he would not actually speak. Not massively unexpected given he had just roared 2 albums worth of material in a little under 2 hours.
Returning a little wiser/earlier on night 2 meant we had a much better vantage point to enjoy the continuation of the series. Again wasting little time MCS took to their third album, Even If It Kills Me with reckless abandon. For me this was their strongest album, as it showcased the best of their sound. Hook heavy pop (This Is For Real), driving synths (Fell In Love Without You) and increased bonkers lyrical content (Point of Extinction). With amore complex instrumentations, many melody mash-ups and greater variety, this set never tired, thus getting my nod for best of the 4.
It was during this album that Justin first found it tough going in recalling the lyrics. MCS songs are noted for their verbose vocal sheets and the fact he only required the words on a couple of tunes throughout all 4 albums is remarkable.
Which sadly brought us to the final album, My Dinosaur Life. Being our least favoured LP this was surprisingly great. Taking on a bright, optimistic and upbeat persona each tune was instantly likeable and had a tendency to root deep in the brains melody centre. The best being the rawkus Disappear, acoustic strummer Stand Too Close and Hysteria which cause said emotion throughout the front quarter of the crowd.
What made this series of shows stand out greater than the sum of its vast parts was the intimate setting and the immense crowd reciprocation, every lyric, every line, every song, every melody. Although the sheer sardine nature of stage front meant any kind of exuberant dance pogo effort was reduced to an amusing gentle swaying.
Motion City Soundtrack stand alone in attempting a feat such as this series of shows. Their recreation of 48 songs, many long forgotten, shows their love for playing live and in the process giving their fans a night to remember. I can decree, they succeeded! A fantastic 2 nights which lit up Shoreditch.