PONTIAC, Mich. – It was a cold, dull and dreary Friday afternoon outside Clutch Cargo’s, but the atmosphere inside the locally renowned church-turned-concert hall was anything but. A look into the packed venue revealed a crowd alive and burning with energy for the Michigan stop of Motion City Soundtrack’s “The Dino Initiative” tour featuring The Swellers, This Providence and Set Your Goals.
Within an hour of fans entering the doors, opening act The Swellers wasted no time in getting the show started. After a quick greeting from vocalist Nick Diener to his hometown crowd, the band launched into a high energy set featuring songs both new and old. Beginning with material from its sophomore album Ups & Downsizing, The Swellers proceeded to playing older favorites such as “Bottles” and “Skoots” from My Everest, its debut LP.
“Thanks so much for still supporting music, even though times are tough,” Diener told the audience before the band closed out the set with “Dirt” and “Do You Feel Better Yet?”
Following a quick set change, Seattle pop outfit This Providence took the stage. Initially seeming like a misfit given the other bands on the tour, the quartet did its best to entertain the more than 1,000 fans in attendance. Touring to support its 2009 release Who Are You Now?, it played new tracks such as “Keeping on Without You” and “That Girl’s a Trick.”
“If you know this one, please sing along,” vocalist Daniel Young asked the crowd before playing the slower-paced “My Beautiful Rescue” from the band’s self-titled LP.
After that, the group attempted to rebuild the audience’s excitement by closing the set with “Letdown,” whose title seemed to match the sentiment of the disappointed showgoers when the song failed to reach the expectations of intensity the crowd had already set for the forthcoming act, Set Your Goals.
Kicking off the set in arguably the most extreme way possible, Set Your Goals jumped right into the heavy “Gaia Bleeds (Make Way for Man)” from its 2009 sophomore album This Will Be the Death of Us. The crowd was undoubtedly enjoying the performance, with many screaming “Bombs away!” along with the band during the song’s close.
Despite its socially conscious lyrics, the band spent no time preaching to the crowd, focusing only on entertaining it. Perhaps because it had had to cancel its September 2009 stop at Clutch Cargo’s due to illness, Set Your Goals was out to provide the audience with a greater-than-anticipated experience. Either way, band members said that they were just there to simply do what they knew best: play music.
“We’re not up there being super virtuous musicians or anything, we’re just having a good time,” guitarist Dan Codd Aire told idobi. “If you like fun music and you like having fun at a show, then I think we’re your band.”
The band played a diverse set totaling nine songs, including old fan favorites “Echoes” and “Goonies Never Say Die,” as well as “Equals,” which had not previously been performed on tour. After the band closed with “Mutiny”, the crowd was left amped up for more.
Shortly after Set Your Goals left the stage, the house lights dimmed and the crowd erupted in anticipation of headliners Motion City Soundtrack. With audiencemembers waiting, the 1980s jam “Walk the Dinosaur” by Was (Not Was) blasted from the speakers as the group took the stage.
Vocalist Justine Pierre kickeded off the band’s hour-long set along, beginning with “Worker Bee” from the newly released My Dinosaur Life. The audience was fully engaged in the show and Pierre would frequently back away from the microphone, allowing those in attendance to fill in the lyrics in his stead. In addition to the fans’ familiarity with classics like “The Future Freaks Me Out,” “LG FUAD” and “This is for Real,” most in attendance seemed to be well-acquainted with the band’s new material as well.
In between songs the band engaged the audience, with Pierre discussing his love of Harry Potter, seeing movies before he reads the books on which they are based, and at one point competing with guitarist Josh Cain to see who could wear more hats that had been thrown on stage by members of the audience.
After the set ended, those in attendance screamed for “one more song,” to which the band quickly obliged. The two song encore included “Disappear” and “Everything is Alright,” leaving the audience satisfied before the group’s final departure from the stage.