Concert Review: Motion City Soundtrack at the House of Blues in Boston, MA
Reviewed by: Mary Ouellette
There’s a reasonable expectation when you head out to a concert that the lead singer of the band will actually be singing with the band, right? Well, for the next few nights you can throw that notion right out the window as Motion City Soundtrack have reinvented their “lead singer” role. With their own main man Justin Pierre losing his voice, and not wanting to cancel shows, the band decided to roll the dice and play high level Motion City Soundtrack karaoke by letting some of the other musicians on the tour with them (Say Anything, Saves The Day, A Great Big Pile of Leaves) front the band along with some special guests.
I’ll admit, I was a bit leery from the get go but Say Anything’s Max Bemis quickly set the tone opening Motion City’s Boston set with the Nine Inch Nails cover “Head Like A Hole”. Many fans will remember when MCS owned Hoodwink Festival earlier this year with their NIN covers set so this was definitely a great way to kick off the night in the most unexpected of ways. Speaking of unexpected, next up would be the highlight of the night for me when the band introduced Kenny Vasoli (The Starting Line, Person L) to the stage. Not that I ever second guessed his pipes, it was just a surprise to see him up there on the stage – who knew he was even in the building! He was definitely my favorite Motion City scab for the night and would make himself felt throughout the show. He started his night with Motion City busting out “My Favorite Accident” and “Capital H” and overall he was the best fit of all the guest vocalists, in my humblest of opinions. He seemed the most comfortable up on stage and was enjoying himself throughout while others (understandably) needed some lyrical cheat sheets and didn’t move much from the mic. Kenny played the role like a top notch musical understudy engaging the fans, dancing to the sweet spots, and generally just having a good time on stage like the true professional that he is. It probably was to the detriment of those that came after him though; they should have saved Kenny for the end to give everyone a fair shot.
Throughout the night their set would see a who’s who of front men from pretty much everyone in Saves The Day (Claudio Rivera, Arun Bali, Chris Conley) to Jake Turner and Max Bemis from Say Anything to Pete Weiland from A Great Big Pile of Leaves and of course, my MVP of the evening – Kenny Vasoli! Each with their own twist on things they all had some highs and lows. Another bonus for this off the cuff delivery was the audience was able to see a completely new set list from earlier shows on the tour. Obviously the band was catering to their guest vocalists and what songs they knew best so the results were hearing some songs that may not have made the set list on a normal evening. They were able to represent their latest album My Dinosaur Life and still throw in a few unexpected tunes. Here’s the set list:
Head Like A Hole
My Favorite Accident
Better Open The Door
Her Words Destroyed My Planet
A Lifeless Ordinary
Everything Is Alright
L.G. Fuad (Let’s Get Fucked Up and Die)
The Future Freaks Me Out
Hold Me Down
Hold Me Down
Like they always say, the show must go on right? The biggest question in my mind was – how would the fans react? I’m lucky enough to have the luxury of going to many shows on any given week and have seen MCS live a number of times so I enjoyed the creativity and the passion the band had to go on with the show but some of the kids here probably only get the opportunity to hit a few shows a year. So, if you’re favorite band is Motion City Soundtrack and you show up and find Justin Pierre hiding behind a guitar (Okay, let me rephrase that, there’s really nothing shrinking about Justin’s stage presence but you get the point!) how would you feel? It was a musical infused social experiment for sure. A few songs in, it was pretty clear that the crowd was enjoying the revolving door of singers and it didn’t seem to stop their penchant for singing every song word for word and pogo-ing on cue. In fact, I don’t even know if some of them noticed a difference. After the show I headed over to Twitter to see the fan reaction and the positive seemed to outweigh the negative. The bottom line is that MCS was trying to do the right thing for their fans and you really have to respect them for that. Fans took in a unique night of music and hopefully will appreciate the effort that went into it.
I’ve mentioned Justin Pierre quite a bit but let’s not forget the rest of the band either (Joshua Cain on guitars and vocals, Jesse Johnson on synths, Matthew Taylor on bass and vocals and Tony Thaxton on drums and vocals). Because of all this craziness they may have been lost in the details but without their perfect musical backdrop all of these singers would have fallen flat. Musically Motion City Soundtrack is a fine oiled machine that made this type of delivery seamless and that’s due to the sum of their perfectly crafted parts.
The band plays NYC tonight which opens the door for a whole lot of special guests so it’s not too late to check it out!
Want to know when Motion City Soundtrack is coming to your city? Check their full list of tour dates here. You never know what you’re going to get!
Tune in later today for our full gallery of photos from the show!