Motion City Soundtrack – O2 Academy Birmingham 2, 23/9/12

Before The Big Bang Theory made nerds cool, there was Motion City Soundtrack. MCS have always been a little bit quirky, very clever and a ridiculous amount of fun. Fifth album Go made a slight deviation in terms of content – it’s hard to say that Motion City Soundtrack have matured but Go represented a definite shift in their musical style. Did that shift transfer over to their live performance?

We weren’t going to find out straight away. Redditch locals Page 44 (3/5) took to the stage first. If I was sixteen, I’d probably be dating their guitarist and at the front singing every word. As I’m 21 instead, I was stood listening to songs that echoed a dead scene. There’s nothing inherently bad about Page 44 – they seem to be like hard working guys and they’re completely natural on the stage, but the songs just fall flat, lacking the dynamism of the bands they’re trying to emulate. The newer material they were playing (including the song with no name yet) seemed to be slightly more interesting and complex, and it’s those songs, along with a hardworking attitude, that might get them somewhere yet.

Now Now (4/5), in contrast, were really impressive. The Minnesota three piece performed soaring indie rock without losing the audience’s devotion at all. Jess and Cacie’s vocals are sublime and came through wonderfully clear thanks to the excellent sound production that held steady throughout the evening. Although you could easily class them as a band that would likely have a track or two on the OC soundtrack, there’s nothing cliche about their act, or their tracks, at all. The electronic element of their sound works well live and incorporating some more non-traditional instruments (like the xylophone. Bitches love xylophones) kept their performance interesting and involving, which is sometimes pretty tricky in that genre. I’m definitely going to be checking out new album Threads.

Motion City Soundtrack (5/5) just can’t be faulted live in any way, shape or form. They get as crazy as they can for such a small stage and yet, every song just sounds perfect. Although the setlist was mostly formed with tracks from Go, Justin said, “we will proceed to play songs from that album! And four other albums” and the band brought forth classics from all five as the night went on. The tracks from Go hold up well live and enter a whole new level of excitement, despite appearing more sedate than their previous material on record. The entire band are completely charming, but Jesse really steals the show at times – nobody plays the Moog in quite the same way. Justin’s story about seeing Dementors in the Holloway Circus subway was also pretty cute, and it’s this kind of stage banter that really makes a difference – MCS don’t hurl insults at their crowd, or brag about their stage presence, they’re just genuine guys who love playing live music and that makes all the difference in today’s music scene. It just helps that they’re bloody good at it too. From the opening chords of Better Open The Door to the final chorus of The Future Freaks Me Out, me and about half the room couldn’t help but grin. If you want a completely uplifting live experience, then I implore you – check out Motion City Soundtrack.

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