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I’ve always enjoyed shows with a good line up from start to finish. If all you know is the headliner, watching the openers is a great way to expose yourself to new music. Although all the bands on Motion City Sountrack’s “Dino Initiative Tour” are associated with different genres, each band could easily be enjoyed by everyone at the venue.

First up was The Swellers. I’ve been wanting to see these guys for a while, but for whatever reason I’ve missed them up until now. Despite the limited amount of stage space available to them, these guys played one hell of a set! Vocal harmonies backed up by fast-paced instrumentals really got the crowd warmed up. Since they’re usually stuck behind mic stands, The Swellers’ frontline made it a point to go out to the edge of the stage and entice the crowd into interactions. This paid off as the growing audience got more and more into the set. The high-energy level was shared between the band and the audience up until the final note of the Swellers’ set. This band is currently on the rise, so be sure catch them on Warped Tour this summer.

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Up next was This Providence. Having just sweated out their dinner with the Swellers, the audience gave This Providence’s mellower indie sound a very welcome response. The crowd swayed to up-tempo beats while fans’ voices sang along with the infectious vocals of Dan Young. You could feel the strong connection between the band and their fans. There were a lot of excited people there to see This Providence, so it was an obvious treat every time band members stepped up to the edge of the stage to be as close as possible to the crowd. This Providence is already back on the road, so be sure to catch them on tour this Spring.

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Hitting the stage next was California-grown Set Your Goals… and they hit the stage HARD! Having toured rigorously for a long time, their fan base is both large and strong, especially here in Southern California. This following was out in force screaming and singing along with every word. Bands like Set Your Goals feed off of crowd movement and that’s exactly what they got: mosh pits, crowd surfing, and even a couple of head walks! With a crowd as rowdy as this audience was, you’d expect HOB staff to give some people the boot. Vocalist Jordan Brown was quick to get on the mic to tell security not to kick anyone out. “These are our friends; they came to see us play. They’re not causing trouble… if you want to kick someone out, kick me out!” Fans love Set Your Goals for this sort of thing. This band is out to have fun and enjoy the music they make with anyone who will listen. They have a run of small-venue shows through the Spring so be sure to catch their high-energy, hard-hitting stage show.

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Finally, the closers came out to a wide open stage. Motion City Soundtrack pulled songs from all of their full length releases to ensure that everyone had a chance to sing along. With sing-along-inducing lyrics and melodies, eyes went wide with excitement on either side of the barrier. Fans didn’t hesitate to interact by clapping , singing, or dancing along to the songs coming from the stage. The connection between Motion City Soundtrack and the audience is apparent on fan favorites like “The Future Freaks Me Out”. The audience was able to carry the song for a few measures while the band stopped to listen to their song sung back to them. The chemistry between the band members is also a huge part of their stage show. At any given instant you can catch them making faces, throwing guitar pics at each other, or just enjoying the stage time. Despite a few technical difficulties at the beginning of their set, Motion City Soundtrack put on a great performance that slapped a smile on the face of every fan. The band heads overseas for now but they have a few US dates lined up beginning in April. Watch their amazing performance skills in person when they come around! You won’t be disappointed.

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Thanks to the House of Blues, Anaheim staff and Kerry Davis. Hello to everyone I talked to at the show, good times!