Show Review:: Motion City Soundtrack 2/17


Motion City Soundtrack
Hawthorne Theatre – Portland, OR
Monday, February 17th 2015

Motion City Soundtrack made a stop in Portland for their 10th year
Anniversary tour in celebration of the 2005 album, Commit This To Memory. It was only appropriate that the small,
intimate venue of the Hawthorne Theatre hosted this event giving a subtle nod
to the nostalgic feel of small, underage emo-punk shows despite the nights
“sold out” status.

Lead singer William Beckett of the band The Academy Is… joined along
as the opener belting out classic emo pop hits from the bands old days as well
as his own work deriving from his solo career. Motion City Soundtrack put on an
incredibly electric performance from the start coming greatly from the
enthusiastic keyboardist, Jesse Johnson, who was head banging
uncontrollably throughout the show and at one point was whacking a cowbell like
nobodies business. The overall onstage chemistry of all the band mates was something to be
admired and caused a rowdy atmosphere among the crowd.

While performing the Commit This To Memory album in its entirety, the group reminded
everyone how relevant their music still is today. The show came to a climax as
the most beloved sing-along classics “L.G. FUAD”, “When You’re Around”, and
popular “Everything Is Alright” put the venue in a state of bliss. Motion City
brought just about everything anyone could ever want in a good show; a long set
running more than two hours, minimal breaks between songs, and a consistent
on-stage energy that brought you alive.

Personally only being 13 years old at the time of their album release,
it wasn’t surprising that most of the audience deemed to be of an older crowd,
and long time fans of the Minneapolis born group. Constant sing-a-longs were
unavoidable for the majority of tracks as their signature catchy pop/punk
melodies have been engrained in their fans’ minds over time.

I felt I was channeling my 15 year old self during its entirety achingly
wishing that jelly bracelets and Hot Topic would make a mainstream comeback.
Among the other iconic emo-pop bands of the early 2000’s such as Taking Back
Sunday, All-American Rejects and Yellowcard, it is easy to forget about how
those dusty mixed CD’s stashed away under your bed or drawers truly influenced
your overdramatic teenage angst years and played as a soundtrack to your life.

Motion City proved that since their first performance back in 1998,
their music is ageless and still pertinent to everyone young or old. You could
feel the lead singer Justin Pierre’s pure emotional connection he continues to
possess behind his lyrics and music even though he’s played them a million
times; this made for a deeply sentimental performance.  

The band came back with an encore of the care-free tracks “The Future
Freaks Me Out” and “My Favorite Accident” that satisfied the fan in all of us. Once the lights came on, it was back to reality as everyone put their childhood memories to rest.

Written by: Kelsey Rzepecki

Show Review:: Bad Suns 1/29


Bad Suns
Thursday, January 29th 2015
Hawthorne Theatre; Portland, OR.
with Maudlin Strangers and Coasts

In the historic, intimate venue located in the notorious hipster Hawthorne
neighborhood in Portland, the indie rock Los Angeles group, Bad Suns, made a
stop in Oregon on tour to celebrate their first album Language & Perspective released in August 2014. This young
group aging from 19-22 years old prove to possess a strong perspective
developing a distinctive, signature sound feeding off eclectic 70’s and 80’s
sounds that contribute to the catchiness of their music.

Not well versed in their music, I was going into the show with an open mind and
ear as a friend of mine shared with me how this band helped her immensely when
going through a rough break-up in the past month. I was skeptical based off
their catchy single “Salt” I kept hearing on the alternative radio station in
Portland that they have the potential to be a one hit wonder type of band but
nonetheless I was hopeful and eager to hear them in person.

The opening bands Maudlin Strangers and Coasts both shared
similar music styles setting the tone with their heavy indie rock sounds that
automatically sent a fun energy to the audience that you couldn’t help but move
to. The running time of the show was extremely efficient with minimal breaks
between sets which was a nice change as opposed to the long hours of delays
in-between band transitions that almost always occurs in bigger venues and more
known headliners. The homey and vintage feel of the venue made for an extremely
personal unique experience for concert go-ers. It was apparent their music
reaches a wide range of demographics with an all ages show ranging from middle
school aged to those in their late 40’s and 50’s.

Opening with their hit, “Cardiac Arrest”, the Bad Suns emitted a charismatic
and high energy performance with a running list of only 11 songs from their
debut album, they made sure to make every song count. They rarely took any
breaks, keeping the audience on their feet and moving for the entirety of their

Their song “Dancing On Quicksand” deemed to be one of the most personal and
emotional performances compared to the others coming from vocalist, Christo
Bowman. Although the free-spirited, fun-loving vibe is their staple, they
disguise it with blending personal life experiences lyrically making for a
wholesome song track after track.

They wrapped up the show with an encore performance playing their popular
single “Salt” that proved to be the climax of the show and what the audience
had clearly been waiting for. It was clear the passion band members had feeding
off the vibe of the audience. Bad Suns possess a type of multi-faceted sound
that is unique and difficult to ignore as the show steadily consisted of a full
on dance party among the crowd.

Thinking back on the performance, Bad Suns proved they are more than a one hit
wonder as the support of their fans was apparent. Their distinct sound and
smart composition of their music promises that although young and new to the
music game, they possess the tools to become a strong force to the indie rock

Written by: Kelsey Rzepecki

{Photo taken from the band’s Facebook}

Show Review:: Banks 10/16

Crystal Ballroom – Portland, OR
Thursday, October 16th 2014

Banks, technically known as Jillian Rose Banks, started songwriting at the age of 15. She self-taught herself to play the piano and has already toured internationally with The Weeknd. In May 2014 FoxWeekly named her an “Artist To Watch”. One could dub her sound as alternative/electronic pop intertwined with new age “indie” R&B similar to The Weeknd. She cites Lauryn Hill and Fiona Apple as her inspirations.

Opening the show with “Alibi” from her new album and the name of her first tour, “The Goddess”, Banks’ signature soft, whimsical voice emerges, contrasting with her subtle lyrical profanity to add an element of darkness and badass edge to her music. She constantly does a subtle, sultry shoulder roll and devilish romp around the stage during breaks in vocals to add to the darkness of her music. During “Brain”, she does a disappearing act and emerges in the middle of the crowd making her way dancing and singing individually to lucky fans on the outskirts of the runway.

One could physically and emotionally see the angst and emotion behind her lyrics as she performed, especially through her songs “Drowning” and “Change” where her tranquil and calm demeanor altered to a louder, almost vexed voice during certain moments in the song, highlighting a strong past emotional experience.

Banks then made it a point to let every female in the building know that “they are a f**cking Goddess”. The crowd exploded while she proceeded performing her more popular track, “Goddess”. There was a definite moment of girl power solidarity in the room as each woman’s voice in the venue boomed singing along with every word.

A mood shift in the middle of the show took place as Banks toned in down by taking it back to where she first began; at the keyboard. She performed an acoustic rendition of “Fall Over” that amplified her unconventional tone. Suddenly, the background of one of her first released songs, “Warm Water”, transpired and emitted a lighthearted and jazzy mood taking a break from the bass-heavy sound. The crowd immediately began moving and dancing in pure bliss as a carefree vibe became contagious throughout the ballroom.

Banks has the cool, confident and empowering elements that any girl can admire making her an idol to her fans as an artist. With her first full-length album, let alone her first tour, she possessed the energy needed in her stage presence to keep the show exciting, which isn’t surprising considering her countless performances at some of the worlds most famous music festivals such as: Coachella, Sasquatch! and Bonnaroo.

Although considering the mellow vibe of her music as a whole, the bass-heavy beats frequently overpowered her live performance at times and shadowed her soft, beautiful voice which was disappointing; this was an element that was probably used to add to the energy and dramatic effect of a live show in the end as there were profound moments of various mood shifts throughout the night.

To end the night, Banks went into her most recent hit, “Beggin For Thread”. The energy was beyond lively among the crowd of a sea of tattoos, black eyeliner and her signature black hats that covered fans. From this performance, it is needless to say that you can add Banks to the list of major women power artists of today alongside the likes of Lana Del Rey, Lorde and Katy Perry as she is on her way of becoming a major threat and force to mainstream music and beyond.

Written By Kelsey Rzepecki