Words and Photos by Vince Sadonis
On June 17th Motion City Soundtrack announced that at the beginning of 2020 they would be performing once again across the U.S. A great surprise fans weren’t expecting, but what some fans might not know is that during Motion City Soundtrack’s three-year hiatus lead singer and guitarist Justin Courtney Pierre was still busy making music. In 2018 he would release his debut solo album, In The Drink, with fellow Motion City Soundtrack guitarist Joshua Cain producing. The album could’ve easily been part of Motion City Soundtrack’s discography for the album presented great melodies and the quirky yet smart lyrics that Motion City Soundtrack is known for. Justin would tour these songs with a full band in 2018 with a few random dates in 2019, but as a solo outfit which included his Ardmore, PA and Boston, MA date.
For the Ardmore Music Hall show the recently reunited Desoto Jones opened the show with three of the five members performing acoustically. Desoto Jones formed around 2003 and had a long spanning career until they disbanded, but would then reform as Kiska to which would also disband and lead to Desoto Jones reforming. This show was their first show back as Desoto Jones, and even though it wasn’t a full band, their set left everyone, including the other bands, talking. As a full band, they lean on the heavier side of music, but acoustically they could be looked at as another band entirely. The duel guitars were soothing to almost a lullaby while lead singer Owen Staszewski’s vocals could take the range of almost a whisper to the occasional emotional yell.
However, the biggest talk of their set was their newest song about a recent music documentary Owen watched on the Miami Showband massacre. He didn’t dive into details, for he wanted everyone to watch it themselves, but the story followed an Ireland based band touring their country in the ’70s and ultimately members being murdered. The song moved everyone for even Forever Came Calling’s Joe Candelaria would mention it in his set saying, “Desoto Jones’ singer is a true song writer to make that much of impact on me with that song.” When the song, or new shows, will be posted for Desoto Jones isn’t known, but it is already starting to sound like a great reunion.
Following Desoto Jones was Joe Candelaria of Forever Came Calling. Joe took the storyteller approach of his set where he gave the audience more background on songs while playing songs that as a full band they don’t play as much. His set also comprised of him sharing stories of how Forever Came Calling started gaining popularity from Harrisburg’s Handguns taking them out on tour and his memories of other Philly venues. For the most part it seemed like the crowd wasn’t too familiar with Forever Came Calling, but with the connection of Philly venues, Joe’s humorist comments, and songs like “Spanish Mother’s” and “Front Porch Sunrise” the crowd warmed up to him to become a fan by the end of his set.
Without warning, Justin Courtney Pierre took the stage with second guitarist Thomas Rehbein of Farewell Continental and busted into songs off In The Drink. After the first two songs, Pierre apologized that he will try and not talk as much and play more songs. He said in Motion City Soundtrack someone was always there to bring him back and not go off on a tangent, but the crowd was feeding off his storyteller set and wanted him to speak his mind. Within the first five songs, Pierre’s wife called, and he had the crowd say hello to his daughter Max. He would play her a song, “Midnight Special,” but later regret it since it was a depressing tune to sing your daughter to bed to.
Aafter the first six songs of his solo material Pierre and Rehbein would play two Farewell Continental songs and then go into Motion City Soundtrack songs. Pierre would explain that he prefers to do those songs solo since they were Motion City Soundtrack songs and it wouldn’t feel right having someone else play along unless they were in the band. Six songs were played that covered almost every album including the very rarely played song “Happy Anniversary” from Go. After the middle part of the set closed with three additional solo songs until the end. He came back for an encore of Guided by Voices “Motor Way” and then Motion City Soundtrack’s “L.G. FUAD” which got the biggest reaction of the night. After his set, Pierre promised to meet everyone at the merch area for he wanted to meet his fans. Even though Pierre had an extremely interesting personal past, he came out in the end with a positive attitude. His solo shows give a more in-depth look at him than any Motion City Soundtrack show can and hopefully there will be more shows like this before the Motion City Soundtrack reunion or after.