Motion City Soundtrack / Mat Kerekes / Thin Lips – The Fillmore – Philadelphia, PA – 1/11/20

In 2016 Motion City Soundtrack announced that they were embarking on a farewell tour with no indication if or when they would return.  The band had grown tired of the touring cycle and wanted to branch out and see what else was out there besides Motion City Soundtrack.  It was clear that the future of Motion City Soundtrack was uncertain, but in the words of another influential Midwest band, the Get Up Kids, “bands don’t break up.”  It only took a three year break for Motion City Soundtrack to recharge and in the beginning of 2020 they set out on a national tour titled, “Don’t Call It a Comeback”.  The 25 date tour would take them around the United States with the first half focused on the east coast and ending in their home state of Minnesota.  It was clear that fans missed Motion City Soundtrack for the Philadelphia date and many others were sold out before the actual show date.  It may not be a full comeback, for Justin Pierre has said there is nothing planned after this tour, but with the response to these shows, they might want to reconsider.

For this tour, Motion City Soundtrack’s direct support switched every few days while the first opener was usually a local band from that area of the date.  For Philadelphia, the crowd was graced with local band Thin Lips.  Thin Lips have been blazing a trail for quite some time, especially in the Philadelphia basement scene, but have been touring for many years with bands like Joyce Manor and Modern Baseball.  For being the first band on the bill, Thin Lips had a good amount of a crowd to witness them and there was plenty of fans in attendance for you could hear them singing along with singer Chrissy Tashjian through the whole set.  There aren’t any tour dates posted after this show, but their latest album Carrot Milk was released in 2019 and is quite good.  I’d expect more shows in 2020 and make sure you catch them live if they come near your area.


For the next five days of the tour, starting with Philadelphia, the direct support was Mat Kerekes.  Kerekes, who is known as the singer for the rock band Citizen, also has a solo career that has garnered a vast following.  Mat explained that the day before this show it almost didn’t happen due to life happening, but he was pulled out of the funk when his Uncle, who was playing bass, told him to do the shows.  In a much different tone than Citizen, Mat’s solo material branches away from the harder music sound and is more acoustic driven.  However, that doesn’t mean his vocals are always quiet, because he still puts a lot emotion behind his voice during songs.  With a short set, Mat played a good amount of songs off his latest album Ruby while still interacting with crowd and making sure they were doing okay.  He also shared his story about how he got into Motion City Soundtrack while driving around his hometown listening to them after a breakup, weird how life works he said.  It was a good thing Mat didn’t cancel these shows because it seemed like a lot of fans came out to see him and he also made a lot of new ones.

The first time I was exposed to Motion City Soundtrack was around 2003/2004.  Like any kid in that time you still bought c.d.’s and in my case, I went to my local Best Buy and walked out with I Am The Movie.  What interest me was I heard of Motion City Soundtrack, at that point one song, and that it was $7.99.  During that time Epitaph Records would do sales on their releases and for $7.99 you couldn’t beat it!  I took the album home and I was just floored.  It sounded like Get Up Kids, but not as serious and the synths reminded me of The Hippos, but wasn’t ska.  To me at the time was like hitting the lottery, I found a great new band and paid barely $10!  From there I followed Motion City Soundtrack’s career, but it wasn’t until college around 2005/2006 that they became more to me.  The soundtrack to my college years can be documented by many albums, but Commit This To Memory and Even If It Kills Me were two stand out albums during that time.  I think I saw Motion City Soundtrack 10 times throughout my college years, from small little clubs to a college gym, which was totally weird.  Fun fact, the opening band was Balance and Composure and Justin couldn’t stop raving about them.  Mind you at the time they weren’t signed or have an album out and they went on to become fairly huge.  However, college ended, I started working, getting my MBA and kept listening to Motion City Soundtrack.  I might not have been a fan when they first began in Minnesota, but I like to say I have been since 2003, which is longer than any girlfriend relationship I’ve had.  Then their words destroyed my planet in 2016, see what I did there, Motion City Soundtrack announced they were breaking up.  At that point I only photographed them once for the 10 year anniversary tour of Commit This To Memory, which can be seen here and I was determined to do so again for their farewell tour.  Those can be seen here At that point I realized this was the last time they would be playing Pennsylvania and that’s when it hit me the most.  We still have their music, but I’d be damned that I’d miss seeing them live again.

It took three years, and then all was well in the world. Motion City Soundtrack announced a reunion tour.  At the time it was announced in 2019 with many months to go, but again I told myself hell or high water I am seeing this band again.  Seeing concerts have become less and less with a newborn, but I made a deal that I can do one a month and this was 100% it.  It was publicized that only this tour was on the books, but the future was still uncertain.  For all we knew Motion City Soundtrack could do this tour and go into hiding for another 3 years.  These shows are a must attend and you won’t be  disappointed.  This show might have been the best I’ve ever seen them, they sounded on point and the lighting they had was one of the best for their show.  The setlist was the ultimate best of and personally I didn’t care if they didn’t play a favorite.  Having them perform any of their songs was good enough.  Justin’s banter was as comical as always and after seeing his solo shows, which has more, he is right that the band keeps him in check to not go too far into the woods.  However, one thing he said was interesting, before “True Romance” Justin explained that the video was shot in fishtown which it seemed like no one around me knew.  Then came the closing of the set, which was “Hold Me Down” and like the last PA show before I got choked up.  I will always associate that song to my college years of saying goodbye and always think of that song as a winter song.  Let it be from the music video or just how sad it is makes me think of a movie scene of being outside, alone, unsure in the cold with newly falling snow.  If music doesn’t move you to think of your own scenario than maybe you haven’t found the right music.  Songs like this is why I hold Motion City Soundtrack high above other bands, they are able to invoke so much emotion in me it is hard to describe.  The show wasn’t over yet though because of course the last song was “The Future Freaks Me Out”.  At this point the crowd went ballistic because if this is the last time we see them, we need to go all out and was Philly loud.  I am not expecting another album, heck I am not expecting another tour this year, but I hope we don’t have to wait another three years for Motion City Soundtrack to tour again.  They mean a lot to me, but when you are selling out over 2,000 cap rooms across the United States, it isn’t just me that was touched by their music, but thousands.  Let’s just leave it at this then, see you next year Motion City Soundtrack.

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