Motion City Soundtrack at Axis on July 24

A review of Motion City Soundtrack at Axis on July 24, 2007

, Staff

The lyrics, Motion City Soundtrack’s biggest asset, were difficult to decipher at the Axis on Tuesday night. If not due to the poor acoustics of the small jam-packed venue then it can most certainly be attributed to the hundred or so 14 to 16 year-old kids singing along to every word of almost every song the band played. Motion City Soundtrack is quite clearly their band, and for the band to dive into the mainstream would probably be an unsettling and unwelcome change. Unfortunately for these young kids, fame is exactly where these guys are headed.

New songs the band played from their upcoming album Even if it Kills Me, set to hit stores on September 18, provided reason enough to believe that they’re riding the railway to stardom. Songs like “Broken Heart” and “This is for Real” are bound to attract the attention of more than just their Minnesota faithful. These are only a couple of examples of the catchy melodies, fun-moving beats, and, most importantly, relatable lyrics within the band’s repertoire.

Most songs, like “Throw Down” from their 2000 EP Back to the Beat, incorporate a mix of rapidly spewed punk-style vocals that brake to a halt when the song turns into a slow, body-swaying sing-along (and believe me, everyone was singing along). The band’s vocals, which were frequently enhanced with three way harmonies, most notably in “Modern Chemistry” off I am the Movie, always sounded like chanting because the crowd never ceased to sing. Therefore, much of the band’s sailing melodies, as well as Justin Pierre’s stimulating vocal tone, were distorted and muddled.

The crowd loved every moment of their participation, however, and sang entire sections when Pierre turned the mic over to them. This included passionate sing alongs during “The Future Freaks Me Out” and “Hold Me Down.” In fact, in the latter, no instrumentation was even necessary to carry the song, as the crowd’s singing alone made it sound musically full. The crowd was full of energy throughout the entire set, jumping up and down, crowd surfing and even moshing (or was it skanking?) to fun songs like “Better Open the Door” and “Time Turn Fragile.”

Front man Justin Pierre’s personality mirrored his lyrics and tone of his voice in their eccentricity and stream of consciousness vibe. “Heyyyyyyyy….I like your face!” he said right before launching into the band’s biggest hit to date, “LG FUAD.” One thing that this group is fully cognizant of is body language and stage movement. The instrumental sections in this song and in others would normally be reason to zone out if it weren’t for their timed/choreographed urgent bends and dips. synthesizer player Jesse Johnson especially had it down, utilizing the droopy, untamed nature of his bangs as a means to whip them around emphatically (despite the fact that all he was doing was sustaining a note or too).

Johnson was also responsible for the odd, highly compressed synth-line zingers that he played during “Make-Out Kids” and other songs, used as a melody maker during instrumentals. However, it was then, when the band missed opportunities to throw in some instrumental showcases with individual solos.

Motion City Soundtrack encored with “Perfect Teeth,” ending the show as it began, with free-wheeling punk rock electricity.

Opener Sherwood had a lot of variation within their songs and did not endlessly discharge loud, driving chords. Instead they demonstrated the art of taking-it-down-a-notch to make room for vocals. There were choruses, however, in which the vocals were being belted like they were the last words singer Dan Koch was going to utter on Earth. Still, they were able to keep up the creativity and artistry that is present in their songwriting.

Also on the bill was The Higher and Forecast. The Higher was a louder and more aggressive version of Sherwood with more untamed energy. Their unique cover of Akon’s “Nobody Want to See Us Together” kept the crowd’s interest. Forecast showed promising potential with a highly energetic set, despite a the crowd’s indifference.&

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