INsite Magazine

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Girls Swoon for Pop-Punkers at The Venue

You first fell to the foot-tapping and head-bobbing impulses. The next step was mouthing the clever, smooth lyrics. When The Venue decided to treat Gainesville with the ideal pop-punk-rock culmination of Sing it Loud, A Rocket to the Moon, fun. and Motion City Soundtrack, they must have not known how addictive, infectious and commanding the bands would be

Nick Santino of A Rocket to the Moon

It spanned from slow tempo crescendos to energetic perfection. Even The Venue succumbed to timely precision, being so prompt in giving the audience what it wanted; I ended up missing Sing it Loud. From the girls’ looks, they were anything but disappointed.

A Rocket to the Moon continued the momentum, swooning the crowd even through minor mistakes. Singer Nick Santino bashfully admitted to messing up lyrics. “We’re not perfect,” he said laughing.

The audience soon forgot after the poignant “Like We Used To.” Nick’s youthful vocals complete the relationship-oriented lyrics (“Does he do all these things like I used to?”), resonating with the audience. Although the instruments are generic, such as in “If Only They Knew,” the simplicity blends into vigorous, upbeat anthems. After all, that’s why the crowd came to the show.

Nate Ruess of fun.

Expectations were set when fun. began to prepare its stage. With a name like that, there are standards; it met and surpassed all.

Girls in the front gave deafening cheers as singer Nate Ruess twirled the microphone, dancing along and including the audience any chance he got. Despite confusing Gainesville with Jacksonville, he won over everyone with his dominating pop vocals. It has tinges of rasp, giving a rawer feeling, but it’s still auditory silk. “All the Pretty Girls” and “Walking The Dog” became melodic sing-alongs, Nate leading the enthusiastic pack. Fun. is in a genre of its own, blending simple chords and positivity for a dynamic night.

Andrew Dost stole the show as well, pulling triple-musician-duty as backup vocalist, keyboardist and even trumpeter. His twinkling keys bordered classic play and pop, like in “The Gambler.”

Justin Pierre of Motion City Soundtrack

When the roadies exited the stage and lights dimmed, the crowd immediately knew Motion City Soundtrack was about to come on. With mere steps onto the stage, singer Justin Pierre had all authority over the audience.

The pop-punk band went straight to it, wasting no time with gimmicks and stage props. Justin – on the tips of his toes – thrashed on his guitar, occasionally pausing to say “hey.” It left room for a full hour of brisk, invigorating hits, stopping in between to thank the audience.

Justin’s presence was like no other performers’. He had a sporadic vigor and animated faces that drew the crowd in. His soaring vocals are pop-punk ideal – one part nasal, the other flawless. Justin’s signature witty, ingenuous lyrics led the audience to flail their arms, mouthing and screaming the words.

For “Late Night,” Joshua slowed it down with a melodious, steady cadence – strumming with his thumb for a perfect rendition. Bassist Matt Taylor and drummer Tony Thaxton tied it all together for a tempo made from musical gods. Motion City Soundtrack abruptly left the stage, leaving the crowd chanting, “One more song.” A man even screamed, “Two more songs.”

The guys approached the stage again, Justin saying, “You’re so sweet – thank you,” and commenced onto their encore. Shaky vocals seasoned battering drums and feral guitars and bass (compared to other tracks). That was only the climax. Motion City Soundtrack completed the show by ending with what got them started – “Everything is Alright.” Each member’s energy rivaled that of the crowd’s. They jumped, hopped and gave every side attention.

And while Justin still had the crowd drawn in, he left everything with a taste of his wisdom: “Be kind to one another. Go forth and do cool shit.”

- Photos and story by Nicole La Hoz

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