The first thing that ran through my mind as I walked into the Graceland was how empty it was. The show was far from sold out and was the third one I've seen recently that had failed to attract a full house. It left me worried about the future of this little club. But the worry disappeared as the first band, Motion City Soundtrack, took the stage.
The only previous exposure I'd had to their music was a video of a live performance that had been posted over at Punk Rock Vids recently. They seemed like a fun band based on that video, but they were so much more. They put on an amazing set and I urge everyone reading this to at least give them a chance. The only disappointment was the luke-warm reception of the crowd. But I enjoyed them, and that's all that really counts. To put things in perspective, I NEVER buy a band's CD at their show. I don't have a reason why, I just don't buy CDs at shows. But I picked up this band's latest right after their set. If this band doesn't get huge, there's something seriously wrong with the music industry.
Next up, A Static Lullaby. I actually own their CD, and I don't much care for it. I'd also seen them live once before and they were less than interesting. In fact, they seemed like a bunch of jerks. Not true tonight. They were much more outgoing and put on an all-around good show, earning a pretty decent response from the crowd. But while they performed well, the fact remains that I don't really like their music, so I wouldn't say that I truly enjoyed their set, but it was certainly more than tolerable.
Next up was the reason I went to the show: Midtown. Let the onslaught of speculations on my musical tastes and sexual orientation ensue...I like them. This was either my third or fourth time seeing them live and I have to say that they're slipping a little. I can't put my finger on it, but they didn't seem to all be on the same page tonight. They played many of their old standards and threw three new songs into the mix as well. The new stuff sounds like it'll be harder than their last albums, but it's difficult to say. Of the three new songs, only one sounded halfway decent. The other two were either bad songs or the band hadn't rehearsed them in a while. In fact, it sounded like they hadn't really rehearsed at all recently. Many of the songs were a tad on the sloppy side, and this is a band whose live show is usually pretty tight. Regardless, I was pretty disappointed in their performance tonight.
Finally, Reggie and the Full Effect. Let me just say that I had never really heard this group before tonight, with the exception of a couple of downloaded tracks that I didn't like and got rid of. I almost left before they came out, but I decided to stick around for at least the first few songs. I'm glad I did, because this was a FUN set. The music wasn't terribly complex and the band was very tight, but it all came together nicely with plenty of stage presence to spare. For an encore, the lead singer came back out on stage wearing a ruffled shirt and jacket with a powdered wig and rollerblades and sang a couple of silly techno songs as he skated back and forth across the stage. While the set didn't make me run out and buy their CDs, I'll certainly give them another chance by downloading some tracks and possibly picking up an album later on.
Overall, this was a pretty good show. Motion City Soundtrack totally stole the show, with Reggie coming in second. If A Static Lullaby were to write some more palatable music, they might make my list of bands to keep an eye on. And finally, the disappointing Midtown, who could stand a rehearsal or two before coming around next time. I recommend getting there in time for MCS, getting something to eat or drink, and returning in time for Reggie. Final score: 5/10.