MANILA, Philippines - A fondness for films seems to characterize American band Motion City Soundtrack, given the group’s very name, the titles of their first and latest albums (2003’s "I Am the Movie" and 2012’s "Go"), and song titles such as “Pulp Fiction,” “True Romance,” and “A Lifeless Ordinary” (the latter a paraphrasing of director Danny Boyle’s “A Life Less Ordinary”).
Yet unlike a typical Hollywood soundtrack containing a diversity of tunes, this Minneapolis, Minnesota quintet’s songs are similarly pop-punk in orientation, marked largely by roaring, careening catchiness.
More than motion pictures
Any “cinematic” aspect to Motion City Soundtrack turns out to be but a part of a bigger picture: that this 5-man act embodies an amalgamation of entertainment fodder from the 1990s, a decade that coincided with the high school and college years of the band’s now-age-36 lead members: lead vocalist-rhythm guitarist Justin Pierre and lead guitarist-backing vocalist Joshua Cain.
Thus, apart from those film references, MCS’ music is informed by ’90s alternative-rock influences, such as Weezer, Ben Folds Five, and The Flaming Lips, all mashed up with whatever teenage ennui and restlessness was dogging lyricist Pierre as he was digging those bands.
That inspirational and emotional confluence apparently led a post-adolescent Pierre and Cain to form Motion City Soundtrack in 1997 ― their collective moniker said to be a loose, no-meaning idea from Cain’s brother Brian.
Fifteen years later, the band has released 5 full-length albums with an EP or two in-between; has sold some 500,000 records in all (there might have been an extra digit there if these were the pre-piracy years); and has logged millions of touring miles.
Yet it is only now that MCS are playing to a Philippine audience via their concert at the Sky Dome in SM City North Edsa on March 9.
Philippines, here we ‘Go’
Per CNCA Media Concepts (which recently flew in Creed), Motion City Soundtrack are coming to town in line with their promotional tour for "Go." (Currently touring Australia, the band will be playing for two nights in Indonesia before landing at the NAIA.)
Judging from the playlists of their pre-Christmas 2012 gigs, however, it’s unlikely that MCS would do a Smashing Pumpkins and play all songs off "Go," much less in sequential order. Instead — plus given that this would be the band’s debut on Pinoy shores — their local following would likely be treated to a greatest-hits smorgasbord of played-out-loud MCS hit singles.
Such tunes include "I Am the Movie’s," “My Favorite Accident,” and “The Future Freaks Me Out” (the latter a frequent concert encore piece of the band’s); the anthemic “Everything is Alright” and “LG FUAD” (aka “Let’s Get F’d-up and Die”) from 2005’s "Commit This to Memory"; "Broken Heart" and the title track off 2007’s "Even If It Kills Me"; “Her Words Destroyed My Planet” and “A Lifeless Ordinary (Need a Little Help)” from 2010’s “My Dinosaur Life”; and “The Coma Kid,” “Timelines,” and “True Romance” from "Go."
Many of today’s college kids, yuppies, and others who went through puberty in the ’90s or 2000s would relate to the band’s lyrical and/or sonic repertoire — with such an affinity reaching an apex with the autobiographical “Timelines,” practically a modern-day counterpart of Billy Joel’s name-dropping “We Didn’t Start the Fire.”
Attention, willing bobbleheads
Motion City Soundtrack’s first ever Metro Manila gig finds the band at a point of relative maturity. Whereas their earlier songs sound like there’s-no-tomorrow orgies of loudness, the tunes on "Go" sound comparatively more thought-of, more even-tempered — more “nuanced.”
And while Pierre’s lyrical vocabulary borders on the simplistic, he has earned props for an apparent skill at heart-of-the-matter openness and an underlying positivist attitude despite his knack for evident resentment and easy profanity. (As if to deflect any heavy seriousness, most of the band’s music videos are jokey short films set to their ear-piercing ditties.)
In the end, MCS — as well as their opening act, the young Pinoy pop-rock quartet She’s Only Sixteen — are certain to turn their live-in-Manila audience into willing bobbleheads, with MCS compelling viewers to respond to their racket with much head-shaking to their blaring beats.
For such music lovers, MCS’s very songs may well comprise the soundtrack of their ever (or hardly)-in-motion lives. - Rappler.com
(Motion City Soundtrack will perform on March 9 at the SM North Edsa Sky Dome in Quezon City. Tickets are available via smtickets.com. The show is organized by CNCA Media Concepts together with Redstone Productions.)