Motion City Soundtrack have always seemed to find their way back to Richmond.
Motion City Soundtrack have always seemed to find their way back to Richmond. Bassist Matt Taylor and drummer Tony Thaxton grew up in town, graduating from Atlee High, and played together in Submerge, whose music might, might be buried somewhere in the depths of MySpace Music.
And yet last year, Richmond was left off their itinerary for the Commit This To Memory 10-year anniversary tour, and they never went on a full-length tour for their latest (and last) album, Panic Stations. Things would get worse for Richmond fans, as back in March, they announced on their website, “We have no idea what the future holds, but for now we are done.”
It was a hopeful breakup for fans, but a breakup nonetheless, and the only consolation was the accompanying So Long, Farewell Tour, but again, http://motioncitysoundtrack.com/post/141035505079/updated-tour-dates-vip-goes-on-sale-tuesday-march.
The National would later be added, and on Sunday, fans packed in to see the band one final night. Lead vocalist and guitarist Justin Pierre (pictured below) greeted the crowd, calling Richmond “one of our many hometowns.”
Opening for MCS were Clair Morgan, Rozwell Kid, and A Great Big Pile of Leaves.
Clair Morgan (pictured above), Richmond locals who recently put out the outstanding New Lions and the Not-Good Night, opened the night with some upbeat, math rock which Rozwell Kid followed with their energetic power-pop. A Great Big Pile of Leaves (pictured below) wrapped up the openers. AGBPOL’s melodic, wistful “Back To School” teased at the idea of the ending summer, fitting for an August show.
After AGBPOL’s set, the lights went down and Motion City walked out to the Beastie Boys’ “Shake Your Rump.” They opened with “Back to the Beat,” the oft-forgotten closing song from its eponymous EP that predates I Am The Movie.
The crowd was filled 20-somethings like myself who grew up on I Am The Movie, Commit This To Memory, and Even If It Kills Me, smiling and singing along just like we did in our cars as teenagers. The set list was stuffed with their older songs, mixing in caprices in upbeat anthems like “My Favorite Accident” and “Make Out Kids” to their softer stuff such as “Last Night” and “Hold Me Down.”
Normalizing uncomfortable, sometimes sad subjects into fun sing-alongs has been Motion City’s M.O. (see: “Everything Is Alright”, “A-Ok”). Before playing “L.G. Fuad”, Justin Pierre described it as a song that used to be about sadness, but is now “an anthem for saying fuck you, I’m gonna take on everything life’s got to throw at me. I’m gonna kick it in the face and succeed and be a decent human.”
They played their entire set with the enthusiasm you’d expect, and the world’s energy crisis could be solved if we found a way to bottle keyboardist Jesse Johnson’s endless energy. Justin Pierre was his usual, charming self, chatting with the audience between songs, being transparent about which songs he loves most and how they’ve come to mean different things to him over the years.
The whole show looked and felt purely fun — just as it did in 2008 and 2012 when they last played The National. Who knows how much Matt Taylor and Tony Thaxton’s connection to Richmond plays into it, but every time Motion City Soundtrack’s played in Richmond, most walk out onto Broad St. smiling ear to ear.
After closing the set with “Everything is Alright”, they came back out for an encore, this time ending for real with “The Future Freaks Me Out”.
Motion City Soundtrack aren’t considered a “Richmond band” because technically they’re not, but there’s always been an air of homecoming whenever they play in town. As they walked off the stage in Richmond for the last time, a fan near the front held up a banner reading “Motion City Soundtrack We’ll Miss You”. Motion City Soundtrack’s goodbye to Richmond was bittersweet, energetic, and fun — just like the music they’re wrote and played for years.