Motion City Soundtrack are one of the greatest bands to ever grace this planet. That’s a fact proven by scientific research and extensive data gathering. They’ve been running for close to two decades now, churning out banger album after banger album. Seriously, everything from the harsh and visceral ‘I Am The Movie’ to the pop-punk, hook-laden beats of ‘Panic Stations’; this band has barely put a foot wrong. Yes, that even includes ‘Go’ which was a severely underrated record and that fact still hurts me to my very soul even to this day.
So when they decided to call it a day and hang up the guitars you can probably already guess that I was fucking distraught. This band who I had attached so many memories too – good and bad – was finally going to stop writing and touring. Sure, I could always spin those old records and recall my time seeing them in a dust filled sweatbox of a tent at Soundwave one year, but let’s not kid ourselves – there’s something invariably different about those things when that band is no longer together. Those memories only create longing and want for more time with that artist, as selfish as that sounds. As the possibility that Motion City Soundtrack wouldn’t do a final lap of Australia before they called it quits became a likely reality, I felt betrayed and angry. I felt like I was being cheated. Like they didn’t care about the time that I and countless others spent with their music, about the love and passion that I and many other Australians felt for them. Then they announced a tour Down Under and I felt euphoric that I would get to share one final memory with this band and that it would be one of intimacy and passion. But there were two bands on first at the Prince Bandroom before I could share that special moment with the band and my fellow fans.
Opening up the Melbourne leg of the tour were the local boys in Admit One. They opened their set with a sound bite with something I’m not in any way familiar with before launching into a profusely loud breakdown. My first thought was: “Oh, dear. Easycore that isn’t Four Year Strong or Chunk! No Captain Chunk! This can’t be good.” But thankfully, Admit One are really in most ways a pop-punk band with one or two breakdowns, so we were all safe.
I’ve been thinking a lot about what I was going to say about these guys over the past day or so and I’m falling kind of short. There really isn’t a lot to say about Admit One. They’re pop-punk but I already mentioned that so that’s out the window. Even with that bare bones description, what you’re probably conjuring up in your head is most likely an apt description of what they sound like. There wasn’t anything bad, it just wasn’t something I found memorable or in many ways attention grabbing. Well, there is the case of the overly intense snare drum that seemingly powered over all other aspects of the band along with a bass that was too loud for comfort. But that’s not really a warranted critique of the band, more so that they got an unlucky or average mix that night or a shitty engineer who didn’t give one signle fuck about them.
With Confidence were next to take the stage and I think that these two openers really help to show that knowing how to write good songs will forever trump how original or unique your sound is. Because let’s face it, With Confidence (and Admit one to an extent) are nothing new in terms of originality or sound. Sure, you can hear the influences in their tunes so clearly, yet that never once detracts from the fact they write absolute fucking monsters of songs. For real, every time I listen to With Confidence’s new album, ‘Better Weather’, I can only love it more and more, and witnessing these new songs live only increased that feeling of intense affection.
Smashing into their set with ‘Voldermort’, With Con’ played an incredibly tight and refined set that sounded so polished and so clean that you’d take them for a band that’s been making noise together for well over a decade. Each member outpoured their own energy and charisma that added another dynamic to the performance and made it feel just that bit more engaging and enticing. Whether it was their punk jumps or their own individual movements and facial expressions, you could tell that the band was having an absolute fucking blast as they soared through chorus after chorus and hook after hook. Word to the wise with those faces, pray thee never gets caught in the crossfire of lead singer Jayden Seely’s stare – that thing is fucking intense and when he gets his sights on, your blood will drain from your face as his goes red with passion.
One thing that I loved about With Confidence’s set is the new light it brought to their older songs. Tracks like ‘London Lights’ and ‘Take Me Away’, which I never felt that drawn too, now sounded absolutely monolithic in their sonic scope and energy whilst ‘Godzilla’ was an experience that had me galvanised and taken aback. There was a new life that was breathed into these songs when played in the live setting. I’m starting to believe that this band is one of the best Australia had to offer right now. It’s as if they can’t put a foot wrong. Legitimately, the only thing I think that could be wrong with this band is that you can’t put the word “with” on a tour poster they’re names on, or it will sound like absolute donkey piss. But even still, “supported by” isn’t bad at all. I mean, a few syllables never killed anyone. I think.
So there I am. I’m patiently awaiting for Motion City Soundtrack to take the stage when the lights dim and the crowd goes into a frenzy. Yet as we scream and roar and “yeah boy” there’s a seemingly lack of band members on stage as a fully sick festival trap remix* plays over the speakers. It drags on for what feels like an eternity as I’m engulfed in darkness and the crowd is starting to squish in. I made the mistake of not cloaking my hoody when I had the chance so I’m left with three layers on as I try and ensure I don’t overheat to the point of roasting myself. I start to think, “Is this it? Is this the way I go? This is how I die? Surrounded by an array of equally excited fans in the darkness as a festival trap remix** plays as the soundtrack to my demise?” Thankfully my brush with death is short lived as the man who was voted Dolly’s Sexiest Man Alive five years in a row, Justin Pierre takes the stage and plays the intro to ‘Back to the Beat’ to a pretty much dead crowd. Even as the full band come on and launch into ‘Cambridge’ the crowd seem to be uninitiated by this throwback of all throwbacks. It wasn’t until the high screeching synth lead of ‘Capital H’ began did everyone lose their collective shit. The crowd began to swell and jump and scream, even going so far as to sing the guitar and synth melodies back at the band. That’s a sign of some real love for these songs. The chorus came out as a cacophony of voices from both the band and crowd in a way that can only be described as synergetic beauty.
Reeling from seeing this absolute classic track and seeing the members in the flash only a few metres away from me felt somewhat surreal. So you can expect I was livid when the palm muted power chords of ‘Her Words Destroyed My Planet’ chugged through the PA. When it all kicked in with the rest of the band, fans once again screamed lead guitar lines back at their faces and jumped in some form of unison. It was once again beautiful.
The band powered through a set of fan favourites with every song eliciting screams and howls of joy. Tracks like ‘It Had To Be You’ and ‘Hold Me Down’ had me balling my eyes out from the moment the guitars begun and shakily belting out every word into the guy in front of me (sorry, dude). We also had polar experiences with ‘This is For Real’ and ‘Time Turned Fragile’. The latter of which had me feeling something fierce from the sheer fact I had resigned the possibility of ever seeing this song live. I was laughing and tearing up almost simultaneously throughout but that gorgeous bridge pushed me well and truly over the edge of ecstasy***.
Special shout out to the motherfucker who requested ‘The Red Dress’ prior to the show. You are the real MVP! That is one of my all-time favourite Motion City songs, but much like ‘Timed Turn Fragile’ I had dismissed a reality in which I would experience it live. The amount of joy that glowed inside me as I screamed the classic line of “with stars and stripes” came out in the form of a teary eyed smile stretching from ear to ear. I’m also feeling blessed that Melbourne received ‘Modern Chemistry’ in place of ‘Better Open the Door’. Like, seriously, two songs from ‘I Am The Movie’ that the other the two cities didn’t get? It was like I had actually died in the sweltering heat beforehand and gone to MCS heaven.
Another special mention goes to the band’s expression as the crowd toppled over their measly PA systems with our voices at the start of ‘L.G FUAD’. I never thought I would hear that many people excitedly scream “Let’s get fucked up and die” unless I was at a Heaven’s Gate convention. Thankfully there was no apple sauce in this room; only sweat, joy and pure elation.
Closing things off with ‘Everything is Alright’ the band proved why they got to where they were in the music scene. That song alone resonates with so many people to their deepest level, no matter what level of issues they may be facing. We all have those times where we put on a brave face and charge head first into our problems. Whether it be facing immeasurable struggles with mental illness or having a simple rough patch in life, that track hits home and stays there long after it’s finished. Not to mention the zany lyrics that have never failed to make me smile from ear to ear. Combine all of that with verses as catchy as the chorus and fuck, I cannot even think of anything better.
The band treated us all with a sensational encore of ‘Anything At All’ from their new record along with ‘Even If It Kills Me’ before rounding it all off with a song that has as many layers of irony in this situation as you’d imagine: ‘The Future Freaks Me Out’. Motion City powered through this final song in unison with our harsh voices with all the night’s energy, passion and emotions culminating in that one final chorus.
Tonight was a night wrought with emotions that ranged from anger to the sadness to sheer bliss. Joy at the sight of seeing these songs live for a final time in a room full of impassioned and like-minded people, but also sadness and anger that we’re losing a band we all hold so fucking dear to our hearts. I’ll be honest and say that I will not give a shit if this band turns around within a year and go “Hey, we’re back!” I love them far too much to care if they did an 180 on us because having released an album of nothing but single worthy songs in ‘Panic Stations’ prove undeniably they never lost their charm and their touch over the years. So as their future remains uncertain, one thing remains true: Motion City Soundtrack are one of the greatest bands to bless this cruel earth.
Fuck…I’m gonna miss this band.
*It wasn’t a festival trap remix
**Still wasn’t a festival trap remix
***The feeling of joy, not the substance. Drugs are for scrubs!
Photo credit: Digital Beard Photography.