A new venue and an adage each went a long way in making Motion City Soundtrack’s first of three hometown reunion shows on Saturday one for the books.
The venue was the Fillmore. Minneapolis’ sleek, new Live Nation-brand concert hall not only sounded great again — as it did for Brandi Carlile’s three opening concerts earlier in the week — it also felt great.
Where Carlilie’s gigs probably would’ve been just as magical in a seated theater or arena, MCS’ performance benefited from the wide, open, sprawling general-admission dance floor in front of the massive Fillmore stage. Fans of the poppy and catchy but punky and vigorous quintet had ample room to dance, pogo, sway and even mosh to the quintet’s fast and oftentimes manic songs.
As for the adage, it was, “Go away awhile to make them miss you.”
Since its debut album landed in 2003 with a modest budget of Epitaph Records tour support, Motion City had been quite literally in nonstop motion for 14 years. Album, tour, album, tour, etc. Fans who got an annual fix of the band suddenly had none once the band went on hiatus toward the end of 2016.
Saturday’s hometown stop on a reunion tour that kicked off last month very much felt like a pressure valve was being turned open over the course of the 90-minute set.
The pent-up energy was palpable in the opening duo “Attractive Today” and “Everything Is Alright,” also the kickoff twofer to the 2005 album “Commit This to Memory.”
“I’m feeling delicious vibes tonight,” frontman Justin Pierre purred afterward.
Things grew more intense deeper in with the 2010 hits “Disappear” and “Her Words Destroyed My Planet.” Then the most gushing release of all came in the encore, which included “The Future Freaks Me Out.”
Motion City swiftly tore through 20 songs total in that time, leaning heavily on its first three albums. Not all the tunes proved ageless; “Last Night” seemed too Blink-182-by-the-numbers, and “Hold Me Down” sounded too precious and teen-mopey for a middle-aged dad to bellow. Too bad nothing was played off 2015’s LP “Panic Stations,” which boasted some of the group’s smartest and most volatile material.
Special attention was given to “True Romance” from 2012’s “Go” album, which MCS recorded with Twin Cities rock vet Ed Ackerson serving as producer. A tribute to Ackerson — who died of cancer in October — happened concurrently Saturday six blocks away at First Avenue, where Pierre stopped by before his show.
“He made it feel possible to make weird music here,” he said of Ackerson.
Pierre’s voice impressively held up strong all night and hit the many high-but-lowdown notes he wrote in his 20s. Keyboardist Jesse Johnson, whose aerobatic and sometimes acrobatic stage moves are a trademark of the band’s live shows, also stood up to the physical challenges.
With shows Sunday and Monday in Motion City’s Fillmore run, the repeat fans might be the ones who wind up sounding raspy and feeling exhausted come Tuesday morning. Maybe for their sake it’s a good thing the band doesn’t plan to keep touring year after year like it used to do.