High Notes: Motion City Soundtrack at Belasco Theater


There’s a particular pressure involved in writing a show review for a farewell tour. It calls for a certain amount of emotional gravitas. Or does it? Motion City Soundtrack’s show at the Belasco Theater in downtown LA—the sixth stop on their So Long, Farewell tour—was a lot more lighthearted than I expected. Here are the High Notes… 

MCS is a band best-suited for anxiety-ridden optimists. From their first fan-favorite hit, “The Future Freaks Me Out” to 2015’s aptly-titled Panic Stations, the band has provided a melodious way to express being on the brink of meltdown. See “Attractive Today” (I am wrecked / I am overblown) “LG FUAD” (I believe that I can / overcome this and beat everything in the end / But I choose to abuse for the time being) or even “Her Words Destroyed My Planet,” (I stall before I start anything at all)—all on the evening’s setlist. 

As far as onstage energy: Justin Pierre is the mellifluous frontman, Jesse is the boisterous, kinetic keyboardist, Matt and Josh bring balance and melody—the anchors on stage. And then there’s beloved drummer Tony Thaxton, who rejoined the band for this final tour and keeps everything “rockin’ steady” throughout. As great as they are live, much of what they’re singing sends me into my own head. It’s often Jesse’s backbends and headbanging and explosive keyboard maneuvers that bring me back to the physical world.


 Photo: Kayla Merrill, One Nation | Get more pics from the pit HERE.

The first real crowd surge came when the band launched into the chorus of “Capital H”—perhaps ironic, given “I’ll be back tomorrow!” is mere lyricism at this point, not an actual promise (sigh). I think fans have always enjoyed the specificity of MCS lyrics, as during “Her Words Destroyed My Planet” the audience were totally waiting and THRILLED to sing “I fell asleep watching Veronica Mars again." 

The ruminative mood continued as Pierre described how “This Is For Real” was initially a song about a relationship, but evolved to be about his relationship with the band. That made for some heart-tugging crescendos as we all wailed, "This is the best thing that I’ve ever had for real!” 

And on that note about evolving: I think when this band started out, MCS fans were kids with a lot to prove. We pushed to the front to demonstrate our loyalty, we had to sing the loudest and pump our fists the highest to exorcise our demons. 

Now? We have our demons in check. We’ve might even be bona fide GROWN UPS. 

The band encored with “The Future Freaks Me Out” but the thing is, it doesn’t anymore. We’re all good (everything is alright!), and Motion City Soundtrack were, indeed, the soundtrack to figuring that all out. Thanks for the memories, MCS. 

Stray observations: 

  • They brought out Dan Konopka of OK Go to hit the triangle 
  • Another “smile so wide your face hurts” moment was during “Attractive Today” when Pierre sings “Say you like me…” And the crowd calls back “I LIKE YOU!” 

What’s the ONE thing people need to know about Motion City Soundtrack’s live show?

It’s your LAST CHANCE, suckers! See the rest of the tour dates here and GET ON THAT. 

If you’re still not ready to say goodbye, see more photos of MCS on tour here.