Let's get right into it.
Arrrgh, more shittastic pop-rock opening. The Long Island underground media slobbers over the meat of Bandcamp's lead singer like he's fucking Chris Conley in 1999 just because the kid is 16 and supposedly "showcases an astonishingly mature writing style." I guess the purposeful irony surrounding the stereotypical line of "I saw you on the TV, heard you on the radio" is astonishingly mature. I may sound like I have a personal vendetta against him, but it's just wrong to see safe and overly predictable power-pop gain widespread acknowledgement like it was the second coming of Christ. Whatever, at least they weren't sloppy.
Luckily, Triple Crown's recent signing As Tall As Lions were there to soothe my anger with some emotion-tinged rock, all wrapped up in a mid-to-down-tempo frame. It wasn't spectacular, but it was a good change from the other openers, plus the drummer had crazy energy for the music that was playing. They closed with a fun version of Neil Young's "Keep on Rockin' in the Free World."
Tripside showed a lot of promise when they came out on stage playing the opening of "Hells Bells." But alas, I was tricked into thinking I may have gotten some more classic rock when I really got something out of the early 90s heavy pop-rock explosion. There was some occasional guitar work that was worthy of head-nodding but on a scale from one to awesome it kind of sucked...
but the year-end Keyboard Fest 2003 finally kicked off with The Reunion Show. They played a mix of favorites like "Television," "Art of Nothing," "On a Scale from One to Awesome (You're Pretty Great)," all with Mark leading the charge perfectly, and then some new songs, which are overall pretty mercurial in their emotions, but definitely have some significantly darker overtones (think Pinkerton). The drummer, Skully, has said a lot of it will sound like Joy Division and Depeche Mode; I'd say this comparison isn't too far off. If I heard correctly from the bassist himself (ex-Count the Stars), it was his first show with the band but he didn't look at all nervous, unless you count letting the crowd sloppily finger your bass sometimes being nervous. He had this consistently huge grin on his face and was always screaming at his section of the crowd, leaning into it, or just diving onto us, singing along, whatever it took to energize the set. The other new member, a guitarist, played well too. It was the first fluid set I'd seen that day and set things up perfectly for...
Motion City Soundtrack. Justin came out on the stage by himself to play the first verse of "Back to the Beat," before the rest of the band filed on stage and went right into "Cambridge," with every member just fucking losing it and flying all over the stage. The energy was maximized, a state of affairs that would set the precendent for the rest of the set. As soon as it ended, the crowd heard the open riffing of "Shiver," and as expected, the tempo of the set was temporarily restrained for it, but still flowed flawlessly. They played just about the entire I Am the Movie album from there in random order, only minus one or two songs, "Autographs & Apologies" and "1000 Paper Cranes" if I'm not mistaken. They also played "Throwdown" and a new song that they said would be on an upcoming split. For most of the set, the entire crowd was singing along to each and every word, as Justin performed his robot dance and varied staccato hand/arm motions as he sang. "Don't Call it a Comeback," inarguably their most energetic song, had everyone in the room in the same state, as Jesse kicked in the air nearly doing a handstand on his moog. "Mary Without Sound" was played remarkably pinpoint, capturing the melancholic mood of the song, with the quick drum fills spot on; definitely the best song of the night.
There aren't enough words in the English language to describe how energetic, how flawless the performance is given, how flat-out good MCS really is live. My friend that came with me hates almost everything "punk"-related and even admitted they were pretty good. It doesn't matter who is opening - if you're given the chance, see them.