Live: Motion City Soundtrack – O2 Academy Birmingham 2, 28/3/10

This show almost never happened for me. As a planned birthday present for my father (because he is rad), I asked him whether he would like to go, seeing as he’d have to drive there. He initially said no, but about a week later, he popped his head around my door in the middle of a busy FF session and said ‘let’s do it’. So, being in the middle of FFXIII, I decided to wait until the morning to book tickets where I found, much to my chagrin, they were all sold out. Bummer. However, my dad is an absolute hero and got us tickets anyway, and I bought him some Jason Statham DVDs for his birthday instead. Everyone’s a winner.

I had a much less arduous journey on my hands this time, but we still ended up late, as is my family’s tradition whenever we attend anything. However, in the case of Jenny Owen Youngs, this wasn’t exactly a bad thing. Indie rock with a touch of country and the most irritating vocals I’ve heard in a long time. Even more irritating than the guy from Kyoto Drive the day before. The rest of the music wasn’t too bad – a little cliché, but on the whole, it sounded pretty okay. Just… bleh, those vocals! Something was dying up there. She had bitchin’ hair though. Do want.

With that out of the way, next band up, Free Energy were pretty sweet. Now, they had the most awful lyrics I’ve heard in possibly forever (“bang bang, pop pop”? What the, what the fuck?) but on the whole, they were good! An odd choice to support a band like Motion City Soundtrack due to their general hippie rock feel – doubly defined by the hair on show – but they had some seriously feel good songs. There’s too much negativity in rock music these days and we need bands like Free Energy to shake it up a bit. Lots of finger tapping, cowbell and an extremely skinny singer strutting across the stage. Possibly a throwback to the 80s, but let’s face it… they were the best decade.

I was pretty excited for Motion City Soundtrack to be coming out. Having listened to My Dinosaur Life a couple of times before the show, I knew that in the studio, they hadn’t changed at all. In fact, it was even an improvement on Even If It Kills Me, despite that being a brilliant album. It turns out that I was entirely right to be excited as Motion City Soundtrack are just great performers. My one lament is that Jesse didn’t have his bendy keyboard stand, but on a stage that small, I can see how that might not have worked so well. Asides from that notion, they were so good. They played one of the best sets I’ve seen any band play, with a shit ton of stuff from I Am The Movie (my favourite), including “The Red Dress”, which I never imagined would happen, and the rest of the songs came from across the board – in fact, here’s the setlist. The new material sounds great live, except the keyboard is a little lacking live, but I think that’s a problem to do with levels and seems to be consistent whenever anybody with a synth is playing anywhere. Justin still has crazy hair and is the perfect gentleman, and I wish to steal his Keyboard Cat shirt. One thing I really appreciate about Motion City Soundtrack is that they actually look like they want to be there – there were smiles all around the band and the crowd! It’d been four years since I’d seen Motion City Soundtrack, all the way back when Give It A Name was still being done in Birmingham, and in fact, four years since the band had toured over here. At the end of the night, Justin told us “it’s been far too long and I promise it’ll never be this long again”. Let’s hope not, because the UK needs Motion City Soundtrack.