There’s something pleasingly workmanlike about catalog shows, where a band just powers through an album. They’re here to play the songs you already love. No surprises. MCS goes the extra mile and their posted setlist includes the times the first and second records are starting in case you hate one of them.
The band is finishing a tour of doubleheaders, playing their first two songs on the first night and their third and fourth on the second night. I have come to Detroit for both.
This venue, Saint Andrew’s, is super weird. It was once a church, and then it was a techno dance club? And now it’s a rock venue seating about five hundred. MCS fans tend to be pretty chill, so the floor before the show is a lot of polite excuse mes and I’m sorrys. I love the midwest. Also, the entire VIP section is two parents and their eighteen month old, who is fucking jamming.
The band sounds much better than I would after a month of double-headers. Plus, this is their third show of the day, after opening for Yo Gabba Gabba twice today. But they still have the energy and voice for this. Impressive.
I Am the Movie:
Somewhere around the middle of the album, Justin says that people have been asking him to talk more about the albums. He mumbles about his favorite high school band and then doesn’t say anything else for the rest of the first album. This is the quietest he’s ever been.
Intermission: The music before the show was all Counting Crows (August and Everything After, I believe). Now, it’s croony big band stuff.
Commit This Memory;
Man, it is good that Tony Thaxton plays with a click track, because this audience cannot keep time. Everytime we start clapping, we speed up. Takes maybe four measures for us to be totally off.
After “Everything Is Alright”, Justin tells us at that at the Yo Gabba Gabba shows, he changed the lyrics to “Give me a high five / cause I think you’re awesome / we like the same things / that’s why we’re friends.”
Oh, the baby is gone. I guess IAM was her album. I get it.
Some bros in the balcony keep throwing beers at their buddies on the floor. Unfortunately, between them is me.
During “Feel Like Rain,” Josh makes Justin stop the song because it looks like a kid is down in the pit. Turns out they just lost something, but it gives Justin a chance to give us his pit mom, “Be good to each other” lecture.
Hey! Someone actually bought the hundred dollar vinyl figurine available at merch.
Good news! Beer in your eye doesn’t sting. It’s just irritating and pretty drying and distracts you from “Better Open the Door.”
I Was Totally Destroying It:
We arrive in time to see the opener, who I think said they’re from California. They’re five cheery twenty-somethings, definitely adhering to the MCS ethos of being happy with your own oddness. They’re still a little awkward and shy, but I like them. Also, their entry music is “The Final Countdown.”
Tonight, we’re sitting up in the balcony, where beer is less likely to hurt me. There is a “railing”, but I use that term extremely loosely. It’s a pipe about hip height and a sharp lip to keep us from sitting off the edge. When combined with the really tall stools, sitting up here feels really precarious. I’m wishing I wasn’t wearing slip-ons. I might lose one over the edge. For fifteen extra dollars, I was hoping for more than a feeling of dread. I thought there’d at least be a bar up here.
Intermission: I look up when “Friends in Low Places” starts and am somehow unsuprised when the whole venue bursts out with the chorus.
Even If It Kills Me:
A mosh pit opens immediately (this album is front-loaded with rockin’ singles) and it is without question the most densely packed put I’ve ever seen. No one is getting out of their way.
I will always love how no one is ever singing along as fanatically or dancing as hard as keyboardist Jesse Johnson. He’s their biggest fan.
That awesome baby is back. Turns out that she’s TThax’s niece.
I’ve been very kind about clothing, but there’s a girl here dressed like she just came from ballet practice at the American Apparel store. Huge headband, leotard, tights, long flowing white elastic skirt, bootines. Looks kind of ridiculous.
For “The Conversation,” it’s just Justin singing and Matt on keys. While Matt sets up, Justin tries to host a disastrous q&a period. Without his guitar, Justin has no idea what to do with his hands. Precious.
The intermission reveals one of my favorite things about the midwest and this sober, grown folks crowd in particular. Instead of staying pressed up against the stage, everyone has dispersed to get drinks and chat and pee. Your spot is not life or death, the room isn’t full, and beer trumps all. We’ll all be able to see the next album.
My Dinosaur Life:
By the third song, “Her Words Destroyed My Planet”, the mosh pit has expanded to encompass the whole middle of the crowd and everyone else is pogoing. It looks like the toga party in Animal House. But me, I’m fascinated by the guy next to me who was losing his mind during the last album and now is just staring stonily at the stage.
Apparently Justin was tired last night, because now he’s talking fast enough that it’s hard to follow. He reveals that a line in “&%$*&%” was stolen from The Hudsucker Proxy. I love this band for their dorky, wide-ranging references. Also referenced on this album: The Ocarina of Time & Veronica Mars.