Wednesday, May 18, 2016
The year was 2003. I was working in the music industry at the time and was given a ticket to see All American Rejects at the El Rey on Wilshire. I was not yet fully jaded by all of the horrible opening bands that I have seen over the recent years, but I was close! It was rare that an opening band would steal my heart the way that Motion City Soundtrack did that night (the only other band I can think of that did that was when Limbeck opened for Good Charlotte).
It was about 13 years ago, but it’s one of those events in time when music changes you and defines a moment in your life. Like the time I first heard Green Day’s Kerplunk record. Or Cake’s “The Distance” became the anthem for my high school band trip to Europe. Or the self-titled Eve 6 record that was everything to me my junior year of high school. Or the first time I saw Marvelous 3 perform live. Music has a way of capturing moments in time and you are transported back to a part of your life that was defined by a song, an album, or a band taking the stage.
Seeing Motion City Soundtrack that night was one of those defining and life-changing moments that will forever be imbedded in my memory. I’ll admit, I’m sure I rolled my eyes when I saw the band setting up – they had a keyboard. Ugh, a keyboard. Keyboards do not belong in rock bands. I’m sure many will disagree with me about that, but in my mind, rock bands are not supposed to have backing tracks or keyboards. Period.
I don’t remember all of the details, but I remember when the lights went down and the band took the stage and there was the typical lame reception from the LA crowd. The lead singer had crazy hair and when the first notes hit, something inside me just flipped on. Not only was this band incredible, they were fucking incredible. I didn’t want their set to end. Rock, pop, melodies, vocals, drums, lyrics…everything that makes a band not just great, but everything that is the making of one of those life defining moments. And the keyboard player – I was so wrong. He was the energy of the band. He was doing handstands on his keyboard and not only brought the stage to life, but his style of playing fit with the music unlike any other band I’d seen with a keyboard (to this day, I have yet to see a rock band use a keyboard player as well as MCS).
That April night in 2003, for a solid 30 minutes, nothing but magic was happening. I was an instant fan. For the last 13 years, I’ve gone to see them every time they came to town, I’ve bought all of their records, Three months after seeing MCS for the first time, I started dating my now husband and he became a fast fan (not sure we would still be together if he hadn’t!). Every time I see them in concert, they start a song and I think “I love this song! This is one of my favorites!” and then they play the next song and it’s “no, I love THIS song! THIS is one of my favorites!” and then they play the next song and its “No! I love THIS song!” and it just keeps going through their entire set. I go to a LOT of concerts and there is always the “time to use the bathroom or check out the merch” part of the set. But never with MCS. There are also bands that are great one tour and then falling to shit the next (most notably Unwritten Law – I love that band and when Scott Russo is on, he is ON, but when he’s too fucked up to perform, it is a total mess). I’ve read about the struggles their lead singer, Justin Pierre, went through with addiction and it’s possible that he was Russo style fucked up during some of their tours, but I never picked up on any of that. Maybe he was really good at covering it up or maybe I was just too blinded by my love for them to notice. But the point of the matter is that they never once left me disappointed.
Well, maybe this last time I saw them. Not disappointed, but sad at the loss of something amazing. Like when Amy Weinhouse or Prince died – fans mourn the loss of something that will never be again. I’m not saying that the actual death of someone and the end of a band are the same, but the feeling of true loss and sadness feels the same. We not only morn the end of something that we love, but we also feel sadness about what the future will be missing.
There are a lot of reasons why bands break up or they just need to end. And the truth is, it doesn’t really matter why MCS is calling it quits (although, every fan is really hoping this is just a hiatus). Being in a band isn’t easy and if they need a break to try new things, raise families, or just not wake up in a new city every morning…they have earned it. They have given us six amazing records, lyrics that we love, melodies that we can’t stop singing, and live shows that leave us in awe. But I think I speak for all fans when I say – Please keep making music. Please keep us in the loop about future projects. And please know that we will always be here hoping that someday you will give us more music to commit to memory!!!