June 24, 2016 Motion City Soundtrack Says So Long, Farewell To NYC 6-16-16 w/ Light Years & Have Mercy
“So Long, Farewell” is the bittersweet proclamation from Pop Punk band Motion City Soundtrack as they embark on their final tour. Coming after nineteen years of hard work, which garnered six studio albums, heavy touring, but most of all, created a lot of memories, the indefinite hiatus of Motion City Soundtrack leaves a hole in many fans’ hearts. A rather shocking announcement, it was back in January of this year founding member Justin Cain told Substream Magazine, “We’re not done yet. I think we got more music in us.” This would stand to reason considering positive praise from listeners and critics of their 2015 album, Panic Stations, which also included a successful tour.
Nonetheless, sometimes time off is imperative, especially after almost two decades of little down time. With that said, while it is a reluctant goodbye for followers, the So Long, Farewell tour continues to hit many cities across the US as the band promised. Keeping their word, they even added more dates to the run following the initial announcement, and on Tuesday, June 16th, they hosted a sold out show in New York City at Irving Plaza. The first of two nights in the Big Apple, they would be joined by Light Years and Have Mercy to bring a very brand-specific sound of the Pop Punk era to eager concert goers of all ages.
With everyone ready for the show to begin, first up was the Kent, Ohio natives known as Light Years. Come together back in 2009, Light Years is an underling who is severely underrated in their genre, yet still very vital to the modern scene. Consisting of Pat Kennedy (vocals/guitar), Andrew Foerst (guitar), Tommy Englert (bass), and Ken Sliney (drums), the band already has released three EPs and two full-length studio albums, including 2015’s I’ll See You When I See You. Now on tour again, they seem more ready than ever to take on the industry.
As a projector screen rose to reveal the stage, Kennedy jokingly said, “Most anti-climatic curtain rise ever,” and it immediately elicited laughter from the buzzing audience as the band launch into “Are You Sure?” It is immediately established that these guys have captured the Pop Punk era in their sound with an upbeat instrumental and the opening lyrics “I got lost in the clouds, couldn’t find my way back down, but the view from here really ain’t so bad.” Gracious to the audience, each member thanked them before going into “Accidents” and “The Summer Broke My Heart,” before showcasing their own funky, quirky style on “Living In Hell.”
Near the end of their opening set, the very personable Kennedy proclaimed, “We got a really sick spot down the block, if you want to egg our van!” causing peals of laughter again and clapping as they played their popular track “My Whole Life.” Bowing to whistles and cheers, the band again thanked the crowd for coming early, telling them to swing by the Halal Guys after the show, to catch a bite to eat. Friendly, warm, and inviting, Light Years should continue to grow as time goes on.
Reaching the first intermission of the evening, Irving Plaza began to fill up quite a bit as more people milled by the bar in the back, generally just hanging out. Then the lights brighten up considerably as the projector screen rose once again, welcoming Have Mercy to the stage. Formed back in 2011, Have Mercy hail from Baltimore, Maryland with the lineup of Brian Swindle (lead vocals/guitar), Nick Woolford (backing vocals/bass guitar), Andrew Johnson (guitar/backing vocals/tambourine), and Todd Wallace (drums/percussion). Having dropped two studio albums so far, 2011’s The Earth Pushed Back via Topshelf Records and 2014’s A Place of Our Own via Hopeless Records, they are an exuberant band on the rise.
Casual and relaxed, they came out to say, “Yo, what up New York? How we feeling?“ only to be met by cheers and applause before leading into the track “Howl.” Unforgiving bass radiated out into the crowd, backed by drumbeat in tandem, as the crowd jammed out to the contrasting light, airy guitar chords, and raspy, melodic vocals. A enthusiastic Swindle thanked everyone for joining them before the band played through cuts such as “The Place You Love,” “This Old Ark,” “Weak at the Knees,, and “Cigarettes and Old Perfume.” Projecting a feel-good vibe across the room, the mood was electric, upbeat, as well as touching, with most of their songs being romance based and wistful for young love.
Steadily moving through their set list, they concluded with their well-know and profound tracks “My Oldest Friends” and “Two Years” as they shed some of their romantic tendencies for more grounded and serious ones. Overall, the contrast between smooth bass and drums to cheery guitar and edgy singing is what made Have Mercy such a joy to see live, thus being a perfect main supporting act for Motion City Soundtrack. While their time on the road with Motion City Soundtrack has concluded, Have Mercy plan on announcing some headlining gigs soon, so keep a look out.
Warmed up by two solid openers, the chill feeling was still present in the air, despite the obvious anticipation of the crowd, which was now at full capacity for headliners Motion City Soundtrack. Patiently awaiting their arrival to the platform, the room exploded with noise once the lights began to dim, and yes, that climatic projector screen rose for the last time. With that, Motion City Soundtrack arrived, and amidst the endless out-pour of applause from adoring fans, they began rocking with “Back to the Beat.” Quickly following with “Cambridge” and “Capital H,” Cain had everyone smiling after saying, “Even security rocked out to that one.” Always a delightful personality on stage, with a smidge of irony, but mostly heartfelt warmth for fans, he then said, “Hi everybody, are you feeling the delicious vibes so far? Groovy.” Taking many moments throughout the performance to show the band’s sincere gratitude to the audience, even excitedly mentioning his child finally learning to use a fork to eat, Cain enticed the audience to chant “Fork! Fork! Fork! Fork!” while Tony Thaxton drummed a steady rhythm for the chant.
Due to the fact that this would be perhaps their final tour ever, the set list was lengthy and indeed filled with nearly everything everyone came to hear. That included many hit songs such as “True Romance,” “Time Turned Fragile,” “Last Night,” My Favorite Accident,” and “This is for Real.” Full of energy and showing no signs of a band wore out, they devoted themselves to the performance. They also played “A Lifeless Ordinary (Need a Little Help), and of course smash hit “Everything is All Right” as the set closer.
As the lights went wild, illuminating the room and mirroring the insane combined adrenaline rush of both the band and the audience, there was not a person in sight who did not sing along to every single song. After all, it could be years before anyone sees the band live again, if not ever. Seemingly done for the evening, anyone who has been to a Motion City Soundtrack show knows they are experts at building up excitement, and after a few tense minutes of cheering, they bum-rushed the stage for an epic encore that began with “Anything At All.” Keeping the momentum going, they moved into “Even If It Kills Me” before provoking everyone to lose their cool for the iconic “The Future Freaks Me Out.” Overwhelmed with emotion, the band requested the audience to squeeze together as a photographer backstage captured this moment forever, encapsulating the theme Motion City Soundtrack has presented for years of living in the moment.
While the So Long, Farewell Tour of 2016 is one many wish was not so, it has been a wild success thanks to the undeniable energy of each band which performed. While many conversated exiting Irving Plaza, the consensus was many were going to make the trip to Gramercy Theatre the following night, and even out to Long Island to see the band on the Taste of Chaos Tour on Saturday the 18th. It is clear that although Motion City Soundtrack is saying goodbye, they are as fresh as the day they formed and are completely unforgettable as a footnote in many young adult lives. Farewell Motion City Soundtrack, until we meet again, and thanks for all the great years!Photo credit: Scryer Photography