We’re just going to jump right into this review and begin with a quick anecdote. I went to my first concert in 2008 at Amos’ Southend (which is now on its way to closing but that’s another pot of emotions we don’t have to dive into right now). My mom took a shy, 14-year-old Sheila to the Honda Civic Tour starring Panic! At The Disco, The Hush Sound, Phantom Planet, and Motion City Soundtrack. I remember walking into the venue and gaping at the stage; some of my most favorite bands would be right in front of me! I ended up on the balcony in the back of the venue, but was convinced that I was so close to the stage (little did I know I would be camping out overnight for shows a few years later to get to the front row…. Oh, Sheila).
The first band to take the stage that night was also the first band I would ever see live; or, at least, the first band I actually cared about seeing live. Local cover bands playing tributes at small festivals held at the neighborhood playground didn’t count in my head. When the lights dimmed, Motion City Soundtrack took the stage and put on a damn good show, thus igniting my love for live music.
Fast forward six years later and I’m standing side stage at the Fillmore, waiting for them to play their last show in Charlotte on their final run: the So Long, Farewell tour. I’m an emotional gal and since this was happening, alongside the fact that I listened to MSC throughout high school and was feeling nostalgic, a wave of sadness struck the emo chord in my heart.
But I digress.
Despite the emotional state of not only me, but also everyone around me (shout out to the girls next to me who were going through their phones and sharing pictures of their past MCS concerts, all while shedding tears and chugging beers), I have to give credit to the opening lineup for bringing me back to the good ol’ days, when emo pop rock was alive and well. Energetic guitar riffs and self-loathing lyrics about dumb towns and broken hearts are the bread and butter of pop rock; thanks to Rozwell Kid and A Great Big Pile Of Leaves for turning time back six years. //embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js
Rozwell Kid took the stage first and reminded us the mid-2000’s pop rock genre is still kicking.
I chose to stand by some interesting people (remember the crying girls?); the couple to my right were analyzing every second of what was happening on stage, from start to finish. They made a point about Rozwell Kid that I agreed with about 79%. I can’t quite remember the phrase verbatim but they said something along the lines of, “When Weezer started to suck, this band picked up where they left off.”
Okay, first of all, I still like Weezer but again, we can talk about that another day. Second, I understand what they mean.
The age of chunky guitars and melodic, booming choruses was golden and it seems as if Rozwell Kid knows it. Their sound resembles some old school Weezer but with a twist that makes it their own. They played songs from their latest release, Good Graphics EP (2015) and I’ll be anxiously awaiting their next move.
A Great Big Pile Of Leaves casually strolled onto the stage next before blessing us with the sweet, indie sounds of their extensive discography that dates back to 2008. Their cuffed jeans, dirty vans, and melodious riffs gave me a serious case of déjà vu, but I wasn’t that mad about it; I’m tellin’ ya, this music was the soundtrack to the golden years of my youth! The analytical couple next to me was eerily silent, bopping their heads to the beat and sizing up the four men on stage. I’d say that’s a win for AGBPOL.
About halfway through their set, a middle-aged man with a shoulder-length beard and square-framed glasses frantically grabbed my shoulder and asked who the band was. Before I could even tell him, he sprinted away, shoved through the crowd, somehow made it front and center at the barricade, and sang every word to the rest of the songs. Uh, okay. It was a super weird exchange but hey, the guy just loves AGBPOL. If that’s not a testament to why you should check them out, then you probably don’t like good music. Sorry for your loss. Luckily for you, they’re writing new music these days so we can most likely expect something new by the end of the year.
When AGBPOL left the stage, the vibe of the Fillmore changed almost immediately. It’s like we all realized at the same time that we could no longer avoid in the inevitable. Motion City Soundtrack’s final show in the Queen city was minutes away and the bittersweet emotions had people tearing up before the set even began. The girls to my left continued to reminisce of old shows, the couple to my right argued over which MCS album was the best, and the crowd in front of the stage kept their eyes locked on the banner behind the equipment; a large red and black sheet that read MOTION CITY SOUNDTRACK in bold, white letters.
Lights dimmed. Crowd screamed. Justin Pierre took center stage. He began to play “Back To The Beat,” just him and his guitar, while the crowd shouted every word back at him, almost angrily, as if they had something to prove; as if they thought they could keep the band together with their energy. I learned that this behavior was the norm for MCS shows because as the rest of the band joined Pierre on stage and continued the show, the audience continued to thrust their hands toward the stage, punching each lyric sung with a pointed finger or clenched fist.
The entire show felt like we were all collectively sprinting down memory lane. With each song, the audience reacted as if the band hadn’t been playing it all tour. I caught myself watching one guy in particular instead of the band at one point. He was standing at the barricade, near the left side of the stage, practically jumping over the 4 foot wall as MCS transitioned into every song. He drummed along with Tony Thaxton and sang with as much gusto, if not more, than Pierre. Honestly I wish he was the one on stage performing these songs; this guy was my hero. Pierre took notice and called him out, telling him he was an excellent drummer between songs. That guy’s life was made.
When Pierre finally greeted Charlotte about halfway through their set, he told the Queen City that they were “here to party, if your definition of partying is set to songs about self-loathing.”
Apparently for this group of people it was because party we did.
The 22-song set went by faster than we all hoped, as they closed with an appropriately-titled favorite: “The Future Freaks Me Out.” This song was sung the loudest, played with the most energy, and caused the most tears as it was the last song the Minnesota five-piece would play in Charlotte. The band has been around for nearly 20 years and gained momentum during the pop-punk revolution of the 2000s. A small part of me wonders if this show meant so much to people because they grew up with this band. Now that they’re finished, they feel their youth is truly over and they can feel it slip through their fingers until they’re grasping at air.
Or is that just me?
If you didn’t get out to the Fillmore last night and have the means to do so, take a roadtrip to a nearby city and witness on the greatest groups in the biz finish up their epic career. Check out the rest of the tour dates here as I listen to MCS’s entire discography for the rest of my life.
Catch one of the shows left on this tour!