Motion City Soundtrack and Ultimate Fakebook in Chicago
A little over 3 weeks ago, I experienced one of the greatest shows ever (well, three for that matter.) So great that its left me speechless..well, until now. How does one sum up three days of awesome? And how does one sum up three days of awesome 3 weeks later? (The pressure is ON.)
But let me give a little background first. In mid October, Motion City Soundtrack posted on their web site that they would be doing three nights of shows at Lincoln Hall in Chicago in December. Each night, they would perform one of their CD’s from start to finish–in order of release. 75 three day passes and 175 individual passes for each night were sold. After a little convincing from my roommate (it’s not that I didn’t want to go, it’s that I didn’t know the plans..) we decided to just buy the tickets and figure it out later.
And two months after that..we began the journey..
‘I Am The Movie’
Night 1 – December 18th, 2009
It started with a 10 hour drive to the windy city. Fast forward a couple of hours of hotel check-ins and rude Chicago drivers and Motion City Soundtrack rocked off the faces of said 250 kids at Lincoln Hall (performing their first release ‘I Am The Movie’ in it’s entirety.) As soon as I heard the sirens for the first track ‘Cambridge,’ I knew this was going to be quite the night. And so did everyone else as the pushing began and mouths opened to yell back the lyrics to lead singer Justin Pierre.
Let’s rewind. Why would I drive 10 hours to see this band? Because in high school, this is who I was. Listening to these songs in my car, driving to school each morning–it was pure extacy for me. And while I’ve grown up and become a different person, I can still listen to these songs and be taken back to a place and time when they meant something to me (and they still do.)
Back to night one. I thought about this while singing these lyrics with other dedicated fans (from far away, too.) These CD’s and MCS mean something to them too, or else they wouldn’t be doing exactly what I was doing. As soon as I thought this, I was snapped back into reality as a guy in full on winter gear and a hat with a Christmas tree on it about pushed me over. (Thanks for that, by the way..) After the tracks ‘Shiver’, ‘The Future Freaks Me Out’ and ‘Indoor Living’ I was about ready to pass out from all the jumping, sweating and pushing that I knew to expect from hardcore MCS fans. But of course I wasn’t down for the count and was ready for the next track (My Favorite Accident) which especially hits a cord with me (and is awesome to hear live.) Besides this song, ‘Red Dress’ was definitely a highlight of the night. “You say you’ll burn this city down, with stars and stripes (stars and stripes)” is proudly shouted (or really badly sung) back at Pierre as he smiles and continues on to finish reminding us of the red dress.
3 more tracks and the CD was finished about 45 minutes after it started. But oh, don’t forget that epic encore. Showing fans what they’d see the next night (or what they might be missing out on, for that matter) Motion City Soundtrack took fans on a fast paced track of their discography. PLUS two new songs from their new CD ‘My Dinosaur Life’ (to be released Jan. 19).
‘Commit This To Memory’
Night 2-December 19th, 2009
I was particularly excited for this night. And with a stomach full of Chicago pizza and Jamba Juice–I was more than ready for night numero dos. It’s important for me to mention that ‘Commit This To Memory’ was the specific disc that played a distinct role in my high school career. It also got me through a particularly rough break-up and several road trips. And it was something about hearing this disc in it’s entirety that took me back to those times.
The song ‘Attractive Today,’ a personal MCS favorite, is definitely an epic way to start a show. However, being pushed up against the stage and having my hand and left leg fall asleep during this night was not a good thing. (Yes, yes..that is what I get for standing directly in front of the stage.) With my hand bracing myself from basically falling on the stage, I was once again reminded of hat boy as he came up behind me and was being his obnoxious self. (Oh hat boy, was your head cold or do you just have a lot of holiday spirit?)
There’s only one word to describe this night: EPIC. The fans, the fact I couldn’t feel my left leg, and the 3 guitar pics + setlist I scored made me ‘commit this to memory.’ (Yes….I really did just do/say that.) Personal favorites of the night were ‘Feel Like Rain,’ ‘Let’s Get Fucked Up And Die,’ and the last track ‘Hold Me Down.’ And of course, this one had an even more epic encore.
This night, the band looked a lot more relaxed and the fans were just as rowdy. There is so much more I wish I could say about this night but I just don’t have the words. Definitely my favorite of the three.
‘Even If It Kills Me’
Night 3-December 20th, 2009
I was most nervous for this night. And I wasn’t nervous for me or for the crowd; I was nervous for the band. ‘Even If It Kills Me’ hits a little more ‘personally’ with me. While some of these songs do distinctly remind me of other people, a couple of them always leave me a little sad after listening to them. One of them being the slow ballad ‘The Conversation.’
With most of the tracks on this disc being about break-ups and broken hearts, I felt like it was was truly ‘an experience’ to hear them live. You know those song are about people, about places, and about times in life when things weren’t that great. Some of these songs have never been performed live before (along with some of the tracks the previous nights) so I couldn’t even imagine what it was like for Justin to sing them.
But he did them justice. Standing there, awkward stance, I listened to the song ‘The Conversation.’ It was quiet in the venue–everyone was doing the same thing. As Justin stood there, eyes closed, fidgeting with his hands–you could tell this was hard for him. While I was nervous for this night, I shouldn’t have been. As a band progresses, they change. And knowing that a band can perform their entire disography live after what Motion City Soundtrack have been through is truly astonishing. Hearing and reading specifically about what Pierre has gone though is enough alone to know that while these hard times did exist–that the band is still together and wants to show their fans just how far they’ve come.
Opening for Motion City Soundtrack, this group is from The Little Apple (Manhattan.) With ties to home, I was very proud when they said ‘we’re from Kansas’ and I cheered along.
Something that ties MCS and Ultimate Fakebook together is Ed Rose, producer. On night one, when Justin proudly introduced this band–he said it was UFB who encouraged recording their first record with Rose if they wanted to do a ‘real record.’ ‘I Am The Movie’ was born and the basement shows started. Ultimate Fakebook also took Motion City Soundtrack out on their first tour when the band was just beginning.
Together(ish) since 1996, Ultimate Fakebook have been rocking off the faces of kids-for many years-opening for The Get Up Kids, Saves The Day, Hot Rod Circuit (etc.). While each of them have moved on to different projects over time (like this and this) they’ve come back together to open for Motion City Soundtrack and confirmed they they are getting back together. (At least for those three nights. Are they getting back together for real..? I feel like this is a trick.)
All three nights were awesome as the band was full of energy and smoke..for that matter. A fog machine and ‘rock box’ are definitely two things I’ve never seen at a show. (The rock box is an awesome box of lights. Once a person stands on top of this box, two things happen. 1) People cheer. 2) That person is officially awesome.)
Another thing you can’t forget about Ultimate Fakebook is drummer Eric Melin. That man definitely knows how to rock. The second night, I heard someone compare him to ‘Animal’ from Sesame Street. And while it was the funniest thing I heard all night, it’s kind of true (in a good way..I mean..that animal can drum.) After they finished their set the second night, we found Bill McShane (lead singer) to tell him we were from Kansas. He seemed shocked as he said ‘you drove THAT long just to come to this show?’ Yes..yes, we did. After having a conversation with him about how you never forget songs once you learn them and telling them they’re awesome I decided it was a good idea for some fresh air.
Night three, the rock box was out again and people were singing along to a couple of the songs. But something my roommate nor I expected was to get the last song dedicated to us. With one song left (Little Apple Girl) Bill said “this is for the girls I met from Kansas last night.” After cheering and being completely surprised, he then said “why don’t you two get up on the rock box?” (My first thought was..’are you crazy?’) After the crowd cheering ‘do it, do it, do it’ for several seconds, I got up on stage with my roommate. He then extended the invite to ‘anyone who wanted to rock out on this box, this is your last chance’ and we were soon joined by 3 other girls. And while I felt completely stupid while I was up there, it was something I’ll never have the chance to do again. I’ll probably never get on stage again during a concert, and it’s for damn sure I’ll never rock on on a rock box (fog included). These guys are some of the nicest guys I’ve met and I wish I could thank them for the great time on stage. (I know I couldn’t do what they’re doing every night..but I guess that’s why they’re in a band and I’m not. (Talk about stagefright!))
I know my words didn’t do these guys enough justice..so take a listen.
When this entire ‘experience’ was over, I had all sorts of bruises and felt like I lost 5 pounds from all the jumping/sweating. At the same time–as I’m writing this and watching the videos–I’d go back to it in a second. It was one of the highlights of my year. And my perfect last show(s) of 2009.