MTVu Tour | 12.11.07

live_mae_sm.jpgIt was an odd lineup at best, with the heaviest of the bands opening the show and the sound getting poppier throughout the night.

 

 

 

 

 

 

w/Motion City Soundtrack, Mae, Anberlin, Metro Station
The Pageant,
St. Louis

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"This song is little bit harder. We are taking it strip club instead of just club," Metro Station lead singer Mason Masso announced to the crowd at The Pageant. This statement alone pretty much sums up the bizarre lineup of this winter’s MTVu tour. The tour came to St. Louis touting the bands Motion City Soundtrack, Mae, Anberlin and Metro Station. It was an odd lineup at best, with the heaviest of the bands opening the show and the sound getting poppier throughout the night. Each band individually, with the exception of one, was fantastic. However, the transition was just downright weird.

Metro Station opened up with a sound that can only be described as gothic power-pop. It was the strangest musical juxtaposition possible, with a mix of bad ’80s synth beats and nasally vocal harmonies. On the bright side, lead singer Masso can, in actuality, sing quite well, but his counterpart and Metro Station lead guitarist Trace Cyrus struggles to match his voice. Their set was contrived and typical, consisting of the mandatory guitar slinging and head flinging for any breakout band of today. However, they are only a freshman act, so maybe they can get it together as time goes on.

With crashing guitars and a downright bombastic sound, Anberlin blew up the stage next. Opening with "Never Take Friendship Personal" off their sophomore effort by the same name, Anberlin presents a level of musicianship unseen among most bands of their stature. They are musically tight, giving the audience the ability to actually hear lead singer Stephen Christian’s vocals while not taking anything away from their driving rock sound. Their lyrics are smart, full of wistful witticisms such as "I am the patron saint of lost causes/ a fraction of who I once believed" ("Dismantle. Repair."). They played a nice mix of old and new tracks, covering songs from both Never Take Friendship Personal and Cities. The highlight of their set, as far as the pit was concerned anyway, was when Christian decided to jump off the stage and into the crowd during "Paper Thin Hymn." The only letdown was that their set was so short. It seemed like they had only been up there for about five minutes before Christian announced that they would be playing their last song, "Godspeed" off their new album. Anberlin was fast, furious, and far too brief.

Mae appeared after Anberlin, not as heavy or as talkative, but just as talented and musically sound. In fact, they sounded even better than the last time they were in St. Louis — something that might be attributed to the addition of Josiah Schlater on bass and Robert Smith on keys after Mark Padgett and Rob Sweitzer left the band this past fall. Mae opened their set with "Rocket," which lead singer Dave Elkins sings through a voice changer that makes him sound like a cross between Kayne West on the intro to "Stronger" and an old woman with emphysema. Otherwise, once he dropped the voice changer, their set was solid, but a bit too long for most. A shorter set would have been much more suitable for this crowd.

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Finally, after much waiting and anticipation, headliners Motion City Soundtrack rocked out in neon light show glory. Opening with "Fell in Love Without You," lead singer Justin Pierre was full of energy, emotion and stories to tell.

"I was always one of those kids in high school who carried around a backpack with me all the time with all of my books in it. The kids called me PacMan, but personally, I would have gone with turtle. Just kidding, that never happened to me," he said, smiling goofily. As kids began to get rowdy down in the pit, he jokingly rebuked them, saying "For all the kids getting crazy down there, I remind you to be conscientious of each other."

These guys are like your best guy friend in high school who wrote for the school paper and played in the school band, full of pop culture references and intelligent thought. Their groupies probably hang out and play Scrabble with them, just for kicks. They played roughly 18 songs, including a three-song encore that Pierre introduced by serving coffee to a few kids in the front before he began playing. Everyone loves a good hot beverage in the middle of some hardcore moshing. Their set was light, refreshing and just downright well done, covering songs from all of their past albums, including their new release, Even If It Kills Me.

It was an odd night at The Pageant. However, it was an odd night that I would do again. That is, if I could show up about 20 minutes later. | Katie Herring

Photos by Joseph Roberts

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