February 11, 2015 Motion City Soundtrack bring memories to New Jersey 1-31-15
In recent years it has been popular for artists to celebrate the anniversaries of milestone records with commitment to perform these pieces in their entirety on tour. Certainly a fan-friendly offering, the retrospective performances give everyone a chance to indulge in music which perhaps shaped their youth or helped them through a difficult time in their life. Now in 2015 Minneapolis, Minnesota natives Motion City Soundtrack celebrate the ten year anniversary of their 2005 album Commit This To Memory. The album was released in June of 2005 and was produced by Blink 182’s Mark Hoppus after a nationwide US tour with the California Rock band the previous year. The album, backed by Epitaph Records, contained self-deprecating lyrics hidden within upbeat melodies and enticing keyboards from Jesse Johnson. Lead vocalist and frontman Justin Pierre says he wanted the album to feel like storytelling and shed light on what he was going through with his addiction. Upon the album’s commercial release, radio stations picked up the first single, “Everything Is Alright,” and began giving it extensive air time. This single became the band’s signature in the world of Pop Punk music. It is no secret that this album has become one of the most defining albums in the history of the genre, one that instantly brings the listener back to a happier point in their own lives. Creating a night immediately committed to memory Motion City Soundtrack came to Starland Ballroom in Sayerville, New Jersey on Saturday January 31, 2015, to celebrate the landmark of their career. In support of the evening were the Alternative Rock band Better Off, as well as another Pop Punk band, The Early November. The banners were hung, the lights where lit, Starland Ballroom was sold out and ready for a night of pure nostalgia.
Starting things off was Better Off, a band made up of veterans of the Nashville Alt Rock scene and who have set the bar high for themselves, creating something fantastic with their debut album, (I Think) I’m Leaving, released September 24, 2013. Consisting of members Luke Granered (vocals, frontman), Jon Dalman (guitar), Charles Miller (bass), and Hunter Walls (drums), they are a relatively new formation, having only formed in 2013, but don’t let that dissuade you. These guys have made the rounds in other outfits over the years and have perfected their trade. Together, their sound is reminiscent of a other Alt Rock bands like Brand New, Jimmy Eat World or even a modern day Switchfoot. This night in January, they played a total of eight songs, starting things off with the energetic “Empty Handed” and closing out the night with the appropriately named tune, “Garden State.” This spring, Better Off is embarking on a spring tour with Defeater, Counterparts, and Capsize with dates ranging across the US. Check them out if they come to a town.
Next up was New Jersey locals The Early November, bringing with them a huge following of fans that eagerly awaited the arrival of them to the stage. Formed in 2001 and signed to Drive-Thru Records in 2002, the band has had great success both locally and worldwide, and with three albums and three EPs, they have built a solid foundation in the music scene. In 2007, they took an indefinite hiatus which left fans heartbroken, but just two years later, the band realized that they could not resist the overwhelming demand for them to reunite, and finally went back to stage to do what they love. Currently, The Early November is made up of members Arthur “Ace” Ender on vocals and rhythm guitar, Joseph Marro on guitar, keyboard and piano, “Ultra” Bill Lugg on lead guitar, Sergio Anello on bass and Jeff Kummer on drums. This night, they started things off with “Frayed In Doubt,” and continued with such classic hits as “Baby Blue” and “Every Night Is Another Story.” Starland Ballroom was packed and sang along to every word Ace crooned into the microphone. The boys of The Early November were all smiles as their fans heralded their performance. Once they left the stage, the crowd got ready for Motion City Soundtrack.
The lights shone with a deep hue of blue as Motion City Soundtrack took the stage. Joining Pierre on lead vocals and rhythm guitar and Johnson on moog synthesizer and keyboards was Joshua Cain on lead guitar and backing vocals, Matthew Taylor on bass guitar, piano and backing vocals, and Claudio Rivera on drums and percussion, and each took their places on stage to get ready to kick off an unforgettable night. Following the album order, they started with the song “Attractive Today” with an energy that was unstoppable. Johnson was his extremely charismatic self, screaming along to every word while never missing a beat on the keys. Fans ate up every second, and no one in the room was left without a smile on their faces. Keeping things going, they played the anthem of the band, “Everything Is Alright,” and for the majority of this song, the crowd sang along so loudly that the band could barely be heard. It was clear that Motion City Soundtrack are still very much on top of their game and can outperform even the most seasoned veterans in the music scene.
As they completed the twelve song setlist on “Commit This To Memory” and then left the stage, the crowd began shouting for an encore. Not to disappoint, the band did not wait long to run back on stage to start the second leg of their most wondrous performance. During this portion, they touched upon songs from both older and newer albums, including, “The Future Freaks Me Out,” “Invisible Monsters,” and “Anything At All.” The band finished off the night with an unprecedented second encore that featured a cover of the Pixies’ popular anthem, “Where is My Mind” and finally completing the night with “My Favorite Accident.” It is no accident that this band is as successful as they are, so as they continue on this special tour through February 26th be sure to pick up a ticket.