“When I was younger I fell in love with the girl next door, back to the beat yo back to the beat of 1984…”
These were the first words echoing through the beautiful Regency Ballroom as Motion City Soundtrack embarks on their final tour: So Long, Farewell.
Back things up just a bit — The Regency Ballroom in San Francisco is packed on a Monday night by music lovers of all ages who count Motion City Soundtrack as a staple to helping hone their musical tastes over the years. A band of two decades (and Warped Tour veterans — MCS was featured on the summer festival a total of ten times) is bound to leave behind an incredible wake within the music industry. Especially a band as talented as the Minneapolis natives in Motion City Soundtrack. The band’s retiring announcement in March left us all with heavy hearts. Their announcement of their “So Long, Farewell” tour meant calendars would be marked, highlighted and circled in red to ensure this is one show with no excuse to miss.
Newcomers straight out of Atlanta in a band called Microwave (which, they ensured us — there’s no reason behind the name, wouldn’t it be weird if there was?) kickstart the night. The guys in the band have an incredible energy, perfect for a night with the expectation to be a little grim (and how could it not? Saying goodbye to any band is bittersweet). Lead singer, Nathan Hardy expresses his adoration for Motion City Soundtrack since his younger years. They band interact with the crowd — pausing after songs such as “Work It Out” off their latest album, Stovall — with playful banter about how honored they are to perform in a venue such as the Regency for their second time in San Francisco. The band closes out their setlist with title track, “Stovall” which leaves the crowd buzzing with high energy and a yearning for more.
It is no surprise that alongside Motion City Soundtrack are tour-companions in The Spill Canvas, who toured together first nearly ten years ago in 2008 and celebrated Motion City Soundtrack’s ten year anniversary tour of Commit This To Memory in 2014. The dedicated guys in The Spill Canvas drove cross-country from the final shows of their own headlining tour to be a part of Motion City Soundtrack’s send off but there was no signs of exhaustion. Their energy on stage was resounding as the band kicked off with “The Truth” and a seamless transition into “All Over You.” The crowd goes wild — and anything less would have been insulting — as the band gears up for, arguably their most famous track. “This is a song about Home Depot,” jokes lead singer, Nick Thomas as the opening riffs for “Staplegunned” hit hard, taking fans straight back to 2005.
The Spill Canvas never falters once with their remarkable performance. They close out their set with a song from their past “Lust A Prima Vista,” and something a bit more recent; “Hush Hush.” Thomas mentions his battling of strep throat and again, watching the band perform you would never know he was feeling anything less than his A-game. With plenty of thanks given, a round of applause for Motion City, Thomas jokes that their band is still so young, despite having been at it for far too long. They pay homage to friends in Motion City Soundtrack and urge fans, ‘regardless of who you came to see, give it up for fucking music.’ The venue ignites with screams and cheers over these powerful words before The Spill Canvas closes out their set with “All Hail The Heartbreaker.”
A somberness takes over the vibe of the venue as Motion City Soundtrack’s stage is set up for a final performance. We’ve been to a few Farewell tours —more than we’d like to admit — most recent being Man Overboard’s last month and This Century’s sometime last summer. It is a bittersweet moment in getting to send off a favorite band in the only way imaginable. Motion City Soundtrack has always been a band that breaks away from the norm. Vocalist Justin Pierre has a unique sound, his catchy, high-pitched vocals are distinctive throughout the genre. The band pairs catchy pop-punk hooks and beats with lyrics giving a thoughtful perspective on the darkest subject matter. Their lyrics were always ones fans could relate to. Deep, personal words like those featured in hit, “Everything Is Alright,” “Even If It Kills Me,” “Modern Chemistry,” and so many more. So many of these songs helped shape pop-punk as we know it, with hard-hitting lyrics that often were close to home for the passionate fans who finally felt as though someone gets it.
There is no mistake about the one last hoorah stigma that fills the air as Motion City Soundtrack takes the stage. The first of their impressive twenty-two song catalog is “Back To The Beat” which features Justin Pierre center stage with a single, blinding white spotlight until he is joined by band members. Smooth sailing into “Cambridge” which is a track that was released on the band’s very first EP back in 2000. By the time “Make Out Kids” is played, the crowd has forgotten about this night being all there is. It is impossible to have anything but a positive energy, especially with a band such as Motion City. Even with the technical difficulties Pierre faces (“Capital H” seemed to prove a difficult task when Justin could not get his equalizers on the correct settings. He joked that they would just have to have more guitar and bypass the problem, which elicits a joke from guitarist, Joshua Cain: “haven’t we been doing just that for years?”) it is hard to dwell on the fact that this could be one of the last times Motion City ever performs as one.
“We’re in this together!” yells Pierre as they jumpstart right into “L.G. FUAD” from Commit This To Memory which got a lot of love (a total of seven of the twelve tracks were featured tonight) on the setlist. Pierre promises he is feeling good about tonight — he makes an analogy that his heart is open and full of love, like a baked potato (what??). We have no idea what sparked this comparison, but we are a hundred percent here for it. Those warm fuzzies you get when you’re eating a delicious, loaded baked potato? Motion City Soundtrack definitely left us with those same fuzzy feelings.
The band’s near two hour set is wrapped up with a beautifully pieced together encore of “Even If It Kills Me,” “When ‘You’re’ Around,” and “The Future Freaks Me Out” which Pierre pauses from, taking a moment to step back from his microphone to let the overzealous crowd sing the words back to him. The Grand Ballroom noticeably shakes as the crowd moves as one —this beautiful, emotional performance leaves us in awe. It is impossible to wrap our heads around the fact that this is a goodbye, versus a new beginning.
We could comment on Motion City Soundtrack’s beautiful stage presence, the lighting and the overall euphoric state this show left us in, but please don’t take our word for it. The band’s Farewell tour is hitting several cities throughout the U.S as well as stops in the UK, Australia and Japan. This is one tour you do not want to miss out on, or the opportunity to bid Motion City Soundtrack a proper farewell.