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January 12, 2010

Best thing I’ve seen in a while.


Motion City Soundtrack and Ultimate Fakebook in Chicago

January 4, 2010

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’

Motion City Soundtrack gave fans the opportunity to hear their three CD releases in entirety in Chicago, IL this Dec. Justin Pierre, lead singer, shows just how far the band has come. Photo by Sara Humm.

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’

Jesse Johnson rocks out on the moog during night 2 in Chicago at Lincoln Hall. A moog is a synthesizer used to experiment with different sounds. Photo by Sara Humm.

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’

Justin Pierre sings 'The Conversation' live for the first time Dec. 20 at Lincoln Hall. Photo by Sara Humm.

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.

More about…

Ultimate Fakebook from Manhattan Kan. have close ties to Motion City Soundtrack. Bill McShane rocks out on top of the rock box with fog and lights during night 1 in Chicago. Photo by Sara Humm.

Ultimate Fakebook
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 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.

A Christmas Mix

December 8, 2009

Here are some song suggestions for this time of season.  Links are included to my top 5.

1.) The Lights and Buzz – Jack’s Mannequin
2.) Christmas Tree – Lady GaGa
3.) I Won’t Be Home For Christmas – Blink-182
4.) Christmas (Baby, Please Come Home) – Death Cab For Cutie
5.) Merry Christmas – Brighten
5.) All I Want For Christmas Is You – Dave Melillo
6.) Happy X-Mas (War Is Over) – The Fray
7.) A Great Big Sled – The Killers
8.) Christmas Celebration – Weezer
9.) Forget December – Something Corporate
10.) A Long December – Bayside
11.) Winter Wonderland – Phantom Planet
12.) Miniature Christmas Tree – Daphne Loves Derby
13.) Winter Parade (I Miss You This Christmas) – Liam and Me
14.) Last Christmas – Jimmy Eat World
15.) Baby, It’s Cold Outside – Greta Salpeter (The Hush Sound) and Thomas Dutton (Forgive Durden)
16.) Do You Hear What I Hear – Copeland
17.)  Come Winter – Daphne Loves Derby
18.) Ex-Miss – New Found Glory
19.) Holly Jolly Christmas – The Format
20.) Together We’ll Ring In The New Year – Motion City Soundtrack

Enjoy your holidays! :]

A day on the ‘Dino Trail’ with Justin Pierre of Motion City Soundtrack

November 30, 2009

Justin Pierre of Motion City Soundtrack performs at The Love Garden in Lawrence, Kan. Photo by Sara Humm.

No matter how old you get, there will always be that band that you’ll never get over.  There will also be those songs you can’t forget, either.

For me, Motion City Soundtrack is that band, and I’ve seen them quite a few times.  However, the most recent time was a little different and reminded me of why it’s important for fans to support bands (no matter how silly of a location they lead you to.)

Justin Pierre, lead singer, just finished traveling around on the ‘dino trail’ to promote MCS’s new CD, ‘My Dinosaur Life,’ which hits stores this January.

While on the Dino Trail, Justin has been doing acoustic sets, in store performances, and other random shenanigans—like performing on a subway (and then getting kicked off), and rockin’ out on the St. Louis Arc.

Making his way to Lawrence, his first stop was at The Love Garden, a record shop on Mass Street.  Here, he taped a “New Moon” movie review with and joked around with fans while they chuckled at his description of the movie (which was all filmed in one take, might I add—and done well for being impromptu.)

Afterward, the handheld cameras came out as the in-store performance began.  And even though I’ve seen MCS before, there was something about this performance that was different.

Justin’s voice ran clear as he sung completely acoustic—no microphone, no other fancy instruments.  While he may have been missing his band mates, he made sure they were there in spirit as he said things like ‘here’s the solo,’ and ‘this is the part where I just sing.’

As chuckles continued, so did his set, which remained flawless.  In a crowd of about 30 people—there was no problem hearing—or seeing this performance.  I found it interesting that afterwards, he said he was nervous about acoustic shows, which I don’t think anyone would have guessed after hearing it.

After a quick photo op, I made my way to the front of the store to a small boom box that was previewing tunes from their new CD.  I honestly wanted to start dancing right there in the middle of the store but decided I didn’t want to look foolish (I’d had a little too much caffeine, I suppose).  I settled for browsing the CD selection while I rocking out in my head instead.

Several hours later, Justin led fans to Blue Collar Press, a screen-printing business mostly used to promote bands.  This drew a slightly larger crowd as he played more acoustic songs and even took requests.  This set too, was flawless as fans were encouraged to sing along (which in my case, is really bad) and be silly.

Overall, this specific stop on the dino trail has also reminded me that no matter the success of a band, where they’ve traveled, and who they’ve met along the way—that they can still be down to earth and friendly.

And Justin Pierre is just that.

OneRepublic is ‘Waking Up’

November 21, 2009

OneRepublic's 'Waking Up' released Nov. 17.

I wasn’t sure about OneRepublic when I heard the song ‘Apologize.’  Everyone was talking about it/singing it and the video reminded me of something The Fray would do.   But I’ll admit– Eventually, I couldn’t stop singing it either. 

It was just the other day that I heard ‘All The Right Places’ on the radio–and I knew who it was from the first couple of beats.  This time though, I wasn’t hesitant about it, this was a great song.  So, I picked up their new CD ‘Waking Up,’ and after a couple of listens I’m here to report that I am officially a fan.

I laughed at the first track, with acapella voices previewing the first few tracks–it seemed like a strange, but different opening track.  This CD then led into the song ‘All The Right Places,’ which is something that reminds me of the song Apologize, but with less of an R&B feel.  From there you’re listening to the second single of this album–the song ‘Secrets,’ which I love, and frankly, is one of my favorite songs of the year.  From there, ‘Everybody Loves Me’ takes on a different sound (awesome chorus, too) and is a song about having pride for what you’ve been given.  ‘Missing Persons 1 & 2’ takes on a another completely different sound and has a certain sound of playfullness that the other songs seem to be lacking.

The song ‘Good Life’ is a typical upbeat song about dealing with what you’ve been given–and to stop complaining about it.  Back with an R&B rock sound, it’s catchy, and awesome at that.  It reminds me of something that would be in a movie preview or a romantic comedy about the time two people realize they’re made for each other.  The song ‘All The Time,’ follows, and for the first time on ‘Waking Up,’ OneRepublic slows things down.  Not only that, but it’s definitely a song that everyone can relate to–it’s about being in a completely different place in your life than someone you love/care about–but running back to them because it’s the only thing that’s familiar.  The songs ‘Fear’ and ‘Waking Up’ follow this and seem to open the same way, but also take on a slower beat that seems to get brought back up within the first minute mark.

‘Waking Up’ closes with the songs ‘Marchin’ On’ and ‘Lullably,’ and honestly, I’m disappointed by how it ended.  I feel like the opening songs to an album and the closing songs should be ones to remember, and I don’t want to remember them.  The song ‘Lullably’ really is something that I’d fall asleep to, or keep on as background music.  Once ‘Waking Up’ slowed down, it didn’t start back up and instead remained steady with filler songs and slow background music.

I think this CD has a good overall message and is something that’s been playing in a my car since the day I bought it. (Always a good sign.)  I wish it had more songs like ‘Secrets’ and ‘All The Right Moves.’  Alas, it’s one of the better CD’s I’ve bought this year. (Which also says something..)

Highlights: Secrets, All This Time, Everybody Loves Me, Good Life

1.) Made For You
2.) All The Right Moves
3.) Secrets
4.) Everybody Loves Me
5.) Missing Persons 1 & 2
6.) Good Life
7.) All This Time
8.) Fear
9.) Waking Up
10.) Marchin’ On
11.) Lullably

Alternative Press’s 100 Best Singles of the Decade

November 18, 2009

In December’s issue of Alternative Press.  I’ve highlighted my favorites.  For the most part, I agree with this list, but wish they would’ve had more variety in the artists.

100. Alkaline Trio – “We’ve Had Enough”
99. Cursive – “Art Is Hard”
98. Death Cab For Cutie – “Soul Meets Body”
97. Boys Like Girls – “The Great Escape”
96. Rival Schools – “Used For Glue”
95. Death Cab For Cutie – “I Will Follow You Into The Dark”
94. Rise Against – “Ready To Fall”
93. Weezer – “Island In The Sun”
92. Something Corporate – “Punk Rock Princess”
91. The Dillinger Escape Plan – “Panasonic Youth”
90. Bad Religion – “Los Angeles Is Burning”
89. Ted Leo & The Pharmacists – “Me And Mia”
88.  Hawthorne Heights – “Ohio Is For Lovers”
87. Manchester Orchestra – “I’ve Got Friend”
86. Lifetime – “Airport Monday Morning”
85. Jimmy Eat World – “A Praise Chorus”
84. Saves The Day – “Freakish”
83. Blink-182 – “Adam’s Song”
82. Brand New – “Jesus Christ”
81. Taking Back Sunday – “You’re So Last Summer”
80. AFI – “The Days Of The Phoenix”
79. Rise Against – “Give It All”
78. Gym Class Heroes – “Cupid’s Chokehold”
77. Glassjaw – “Pretty Lush”
76. Death Cab For Cutie – “The New Year”
75. Green Day – “Jesus Of Suburbia”
74. The Faint – “I Disappear”
73. Hot Hot Heat – “Bandages”
72. Dropkick Murphy’s – “I’m Shipping Up To Boston”
71. Motion City Soundtrack – “Everything Is Alright”
70. Death Cab For Cutie – “The Sound Of Settling”
69. Fall Out Boy – “Dance, Dance”
68. The All-American Rejects – “Dirty Little Secret”
67. Plain White T’s – “Hey There Delilah”
66. Muse – “Starlight”
65. Bright Eyes – “Lover I Don’t Have To Love”
64. Green Day – “Wake Me Up When September Ends”
63. AFI – “Girl’s Not Grey”
62. The Hives – “Hate To Say I Told You So”
61. Sparta – “Cut Your Ribbon”
60. Glassjaw – “Ape Dos Mil”
59. Straylight Run – “Existentialism On Prom Night”
58. Say Anything – “Wow, I Can Get Sexual Too”
57. Cobra Starship – “Snakes On A Plane (Bring It)”
56. Bad Religion – “Sorrow”
55. Anthony Green – “Dear Child (I’ve Been Dying To Reach You)
54. Taking Back Sunday – “MakeDamnSure”
53. Green Day – “Boulevard Of Broken Dreams”
52. Rise Against – “Swing Life Away”
51. Dashboard Confessional – “Hands Down”
50. The Bouncing Souls – “True Believers”
49. Modest Mouse – “Float On”
48. Blink-182 – “The Rock Show”
47. My Chemical Romance – “Welcome To The Black Parade”
46. Against Me – “Thrash Unreal”
45. The Used – “A Box Full Of Sharp Objects”
44. Motion City Soundtrack – “The Future Freaks Me Out”
43. The Shins – “New Slang”
42. Yellowcard – “Ocean Avenue” 
41. The Postal Service – “The District Sleeps Alone Tonight”
40. Underoath – “Reinventing Your Exit”
39. Paramore – “That’s What You Get”
38. Saves The Day – “Shoulder To The Wheel”
37. Panic! At The Disco – “I Write Sins Not Tragedies”
36. Phantom Planet – “California”
35. The Starting Line – “The Best Of Me”
34. 3OH!3 – “Don’t Trust Me”
33. Silversun Pickups – “Lazy Eye”
32. New Found Glory – “My Friends Over You”
31. Brand New – “Sic Transit Gloria…Glory Fades”
30. AFI – “Miss Murder”
29. Alkaline Trio – “Stupid Kid”
28. Andrew W.K. – “Party Hard”
27. Alive With The Glory Of Love – “Say Anything”
26. New Found Glory – “Hit Or Miss”
25. The All-American Rejects – “Move Along”
24. Green Day – “American Idiot”
23. Piebald – “American Hearts”
22. Brand New – “The Quiet Things That No One Ever Knows”
21. The Used – “The Taste Of Ink”
20. Paramore – “Misery Business”
19. The All American Rejects – “Swing, Swing”
18. Deftones – “Change (In The House Of Files)”
17. Head Automatica – “Beating Heart Baby”
16. Muse – “Time Is Running Out”
15. Saves The Day – “At Your Funeral”‘
14. Brand New – “Jude Law And A Semester Abroad”
13. The Gaslight Anthem – “The ’59 Sound”
12. Jimmy Eat World – “Bleed America”
11. Blink-182 – “All The Small Things”
10. Thursday – “Understanding In A Car Crash”
9. Jimmy Eat World – “The Middle”
8. My Chemical Romance – “Helena”
7. Dashboard Confessional – “Screaming Infidelities”
6. The Postal Service – “Such Great Heights”
5. Taking Back Sunday – “Cute Without The ‘E’ (Cut From The Team)”
4. Fall Out Boy – “Sugar, We’re Goin’ Down”
3. Jimmy Eat World – “Sweetness”
2. My Chemical Romance – “I’m Not Okay (I Promise)”
1. At The Drive In – “One Armed Sissor”

New OneRepublic CD review coming Friday.

There’s nothing like live music

November 3, 2009



10-foot-tall guitars sit on a baggage-claim carousel in the Austin, TX airport. The decorated guitars are a fundraiser for several Austin charities. (Photo by Sara Humm)

I was fortunate enough to visit Austin, Texas last week and I’m not disappointed in its claim to be ‘live music capital of the world.’  And it’s been that way for a while, since 1991.


While walking on 6th street (similar to Lawrence, Kansas–but with more bars) all you could hear was live music coming from various bars that were hoping to pull you in.  The town was plastered with posters and signs that said ‘band unloading zone,’ which I thought was awesome, too.

After looking why this is Austin’s claim to fame, I found that they have a ‘Live Music Task Force’ that works with the Austin music scene and the community.  They meet to address issues, developments and challenges that are happening within the music community.  Not only do they have this organization, but there are many annual concert series and live music going on every day.

Love for local music seems to be a common thing for the residents of Austin–the bars were packed and the people seemed to be into it.  The city also has a program called ‘Music on Hold,’ which plays local bands when a person is put on hold during a phone call. (How awesome is that?!!)  Bands even play at the City Council meetings.

As if all of this isn’t enough, the city of Austin has released a study measuring the impact of their music scene.  In short, it states that live music is great for the Austin community because it defines the town’s culture.  Not only that, but that it’s great income for the city.

“City government recognizes the role of music in Austin in a variety of ways, including providing music by local artists at the airport, funding a cable access channel devoted entirely to local music, and administering a loan program specifically for the music industry,” the study states.

While Austin, Texas is quite the drive or plane ride away, downtown Lawrence Kansas also thrives on local music–Jackpot Music Hall is one of the places where bands are playing each night.  A list of venues can be found on Lawrence’s city website. Not only is live music a great thing in Lawrence, but KU’s student station, KJHJ, is an awesome student run station as well.

I believe supporting your local music scene is important to keeping bands around and doing what they love (and what we love–too).  It’s really refreshing to step outside the local scene of the Kansas City/Lawrence area and find another town who really supports those local bands.  And in an age where CD sales are declining and illegal music downloading is becoming more prominent–why not show you care about your community (& the economy) ?

Shows coming your way:
Tomorrow – Paramore @ Uptown Theater (Kansas City)
November 6th – Joshua Radin at the Granada (Lawrence)
November 14th – Cage The Elephant at the Beaumont Club (Kansas City)
November 20th – The Republic Tigers (KC local band) at the Granada (Lawrence)
November 14th & 20th-The Dead Girls (Lawrence band) at the Granada (Lawrence)