Concert review: Motion City Soundtrack with WD-Han, Sing It Loud and A Rocket to the Moon at State Theatre

The restrained reflection didn’t last for long, though, as the stage erupted in lightning and the spirited quintet launched into the song’s electrifying chorus. Drummer Tony Thaxton pounded at his kit with the force of a militant firing squad while Pierre ferociously strummed away at his first of many electric guitars.


The group rarely paused for air during their (roughly) 75-minute-set. Jesse Johnson helmed the keys and moog synthesizer like a possessed choral director, enticing the crowd to participate by shouting out lyrics and pumping his first into the air. “Baby-faced” bassist Matt Taylor added background vocals while keeping a tight groove and co-founder Josh Cain emphatically wielded his guitar around the left side of the stage.


The 18-song-set was jam packed with high-octane anthems ranging from the heart-pounding “The Future Freaks Me Out” early on in the set to the Postal-Service-esque verses of “Even If It Kills Me” that surged into an explosive radio ready chorus. As the night went on the band beefed up the synths and sound effects, but didn’t really deviate from their signature style. In between songs Pierre dabbed himself with a towel and awkwardly attempted to deliver some jokes. It mostly fell flat, but nobody seemed bothered because the chatter never lasted long. It would only be a matter of seconds before they launched into another blistering tune from one of their three albums, including the fan-requested dance floor shaking of “Capital H" from 2003's I Am The Movie.


By the end of the night the band had delivered a show so high-energy and packed full of quirky, yet accessible tunes that I barely noticed an hour had gone by. Judging from the screams they ended on a fan favorite, their dizzying 2005 single “Everything Is Alright,” but not before Pierre had some parting words of wisdom: “Go forth, do some really cool s***, and be nice to one another.”


Setlist:


Worker Bee


The Future Freaks Me Out


My Favorite Accident


Broken Heart


Delirium


This Is For Real


Even If It Kills Me


Make Out Kids


Pulp Fiction


Last Night


A Lifeless Ordinary (Need A Little Help)


Capital H


Attractive Today


L.G FUAD


Her Words Destroyed My Planet


Calling All Cops


Disappear


Everything Is Alright

The line outside the State Theatre for Motion City Soundtrack’s headlining show on Saturday night reminded me of a high school pep rally. You had every clique in the school you could possibly imagine and even a few of the teachers and administrators. They all gathered together for one event to show off their spirit, text their friends, make some noise and have a little fun. Unfortunately Fun — the musical love child of The Format’s Nate Ruess, Steel Train’s Jack Antonoff and Andrew Dost (formerly of Anthallo) — had an illness and was unable to play the April 24 show. [MSS picture below not from the show.]

Clearwater-based quintet WD-Han, which stands for "we do not have a name," earned an opening slot for the show after winning the Pasco County Library Battle of the Bands. They kicked off the night with Spencer Barnes’ soulful vocals and a slinky set of alt rock. Minneapolis-based Sing It Loud followed with an energetic seven-song set featuring songs from their sophomore Epitaph Records release Everything Collide as well as a rousing cover of the Foo Fighters’ "Monkey Wrench." A Rocket to the Moon rounded out the openers and mostly played it cool, choosing to work their charm to get the sweaty crowd of teenage girls singing in harmony to their eight-song set of melodic lovesick rockers.

But all of that was just a vocal warm-up for the main event — punk-pop fivesome Motion City Soundtrack. The lights dimmed and the band members filtered onto the stage around 9:45 p.m. to the shrieks and howls of an eager crowd. Frontman Justin Pierre eased into the opening verse of "Worker Bee," the opening track to their 2010 Colombia debut, My Dinosaur Life. “It’s been a good year, a good new beginning,” he crooned under a lone spotlight. Good year indeed — Dinosaur’s held strong with an impressive 83 rating on Metacritic since its release in January.

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