Justin Pierre – Chicago – The Metro, IL – 2004-01-20

Justin Pierre
Where: Chicago – The Metro, IL.

When: 2004-01-20

Ahhhh … There’s nothing like a little five-hour one way drive to see a show. Yup – once again showcasing every last bit of my clinical insanity, I split work early and hopped into my little green Kia to head towards Chicago for a great big acoustic rock party. That’s right, kids – five hours of driving + $2 cover charge = one numb butt and five acoustic rock sets.

After I’d had a few cheap beers, Justin Pierre (of Motion City Soundtrack) opened up the night with an energetic set that spanned MCS material, at least one new song, and a Jawbox cover. Pierre repeatedly mentioned that he was nervous, though it was hard to tell, thanks to the consistantly entertaining banter he kept going with the crowd.

Darren Spitzer (of Changes) took the stage next, offering up a set of quiet, folkish and country-tinged material that was a full 180 degree turn from Pierre’s set. Spitzer’s material was a bit on the sparse side, but the combined sound of his voice and guitar created a very warm sound. Easily the best part of Spitzer’s set, however, was a cover of the old Motown standard, “Stop! In the Name of Love,” where he was joined on stage by a friend playing pedal steel (and yeah, though it was good, it was as unusual-sounding as it reads).

Elizabeth Elmore from The Reputation played the ‘middle’ set, actually splitting her set into two segments – half played on an acoustic guitar and half played on an electric guitar. Elmore drew chuckles during her first song, completely stopping after flubbing a chord change before announcing, “Yeah, that would happen as I’m singing the words ‘amateur hour’.” From there, Elmore busted out some newer material (including one song sure to be included on The Reputation’s forthcoming full-length album), and actually threw out a few songs from the old Sarge songbook as well.

At some point around the end of Elmore’s set, I realized that a few friends of mine from Michigan were standing right in front of me, which was odd, to say the least, though it was nice to have someone to talk with for the rest of the night.

Bob Nanna of Hey Mercedes fame followed Elmore’s set and easily took the crown for the quietest, most stark and delicate performance of the night. A surprising amount of Nanna’s material drew from his Braid days, which seemed to make a majority of the audience pretty pleased.

After Nanna’s set, I wandered around for a bit (sipping a cheap beer, of course) before just chilling upstairs behind the balcony bar for Dan Andriano’s (Alkaline Trio) set. Dan’s set was the most fleshed out and peppy of the evening, even if the somber “Enjoy Your Day” was the best performance of the set. Andriano closed his set with a surprisingly rousing cover of Elvis Costello’s “(What’s So Funny ‘Bout) Peace, Love and Understanding” that seemed to send everyone home happy.

I’ve gotta admit – the drive from Detroit to Chicago could’ve been better (I really could’ve done without that blast of snow during the last 40 miles of Michigan highway on the way there), but seeng five very good acoustic sets for $2 was well worth the trip. I wish folks would start putting together more stuff like this around the Detroit area.