Motion City Soundtrack

Motion City Soundtrack and the Moog pop-punked Grandma’s

Andrew Olson

Reader Weekly

Motion City Soundtrack headlined an evening of pop-punk music at Grandma’s on Tuesday night for a nearly packed house.

MCS, from Minneapolis, has been around since 1997. The band still has two of its original members, Joshua Cain (guitar) and Justin Pierre (singer/songwriter), but has been rounded out by Jesse Johnson (Moog/Keys), Matthew Taylor (Bass), and Tony Thaxton (drums) since 2002.

The crowd was fairly young at the all ages show and most knew all the words to virtually every song. Most were dressed like they were trying to make Duluth look like an episode of The Hills. The vibe did have a Duluth “Hillside” take on Cali’s version, the soundtrack was all there in full force.

There is little wonder as to why the music of MCS is so popular with young people today. Their success has led to their songs appearing in videogames, movies like 17 Again and The Bad News Bears, and even trendy TV teen soap operas like Gossip Girl. The band has basically supplied pop culture’s theme songs.

The three opening acts flew through and soon I heard the magical sound of the Moog being warmed up. What is a Moog you might ask yourself?

A Moog is a synthesizer invented by Dr. Robert Moog that made its debut in a booth at the Monterey Pop Festival in 1967. That is where it caught the ear of Simon & Garfunkel and the Byrds and entered rock lore. Soon The Doors used one on “Strange Days” and it even made it into The Rolling Stones’ album December’s Children and The Beatles’ Abby Road, only to be later perfected by Stevie Wonder in the 1970s.

A Moog attached to an organ can create a psychedelic sound that bends notes and takes music into a science-fiction outer space. Yes, ELO, Rush, Genesis, P-Funk, and other bands hooked it up to various instruments and soon it grew kind of out of fashion due to saturation.

A few bands today have created their entire sound around the instrument, but Motion City Soundtrack has found a lot of success using it. Johnson is the second Moog player in the band’s history, but he has been playing with the group since 2002.

The sound that the Moog gives MCS throws them back to a different time musically, and then mixed with a Blink-182 sound, it becomes something new again. Their album Commit This To Memory was produced by 182’s Mark Hoppus, and he sang on the song “Hangman.” The band has had a lot of help over the years by many people in the business, and recently they released their album My Dinosaur Life.

Johnson rocked the Moog and the attached keyboard, dancing with the instrument at the show and having great energy. He gave me flashbacks of when I saw a bootleg VHS copy of Keith Emerson tipping his giant organ on its side and ferociously banging away on it at the Isle of Wight Festival in 1970. Johnson’s Moog wasn’t as big as Emerson’s, but Johnson rocked in his own right.

Early in the show when the bouncers caught a young patron crowd-surfing they kicked him out. At that point Cain yelled to the bouncers to let the fan back in. It seemed important to him to get the person back in and you could tell that he wanted the kid to get his money’s worth.

It was a casual show, but it had a giant stage and sound system. Parked out front was the band’s very large tour bus, the home of MCS. They began their odyssey as a band way back in the early millennium knowing that to make it big that they would have to tour. Their show in Duluth was impressive, and the band connected with the audience, one fan at a time.

The setlist for the show was:



My Fav

Broken Heart


This Is For Real

When Yer Round


Last Night


Worker Bee

Pulp Fiction

Even If It Kills Me

Mother Effer


Her Words

L.G. Fuad