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Review: Justin Courtney Pierre

Justin Courtney Pierre stopped at 20th Century Theatre last night in support of his new solo release, In the Drink.

Van Dale, a three-piece band from Columbus, opened the show with an energetic and crowd-pleasing performance of what they call “rage punk from the moon.” They were followed by pronoun, an indie pop/rock band from Brooklyn. Their music mixed with endearing and relatable banter from lead singer, Alyse Velturo, captivated the audience from start to finish.

Pierre opened his set with “Undone” and continued playing through several tracks from “In the Drink” including “Anchor,” “Moonbeam,” and “I’m a Liar.” As the former front man of Motion City Soundtrack, Pierre’s new material has a sweet nostalgic familiarity while at the same time being exactly what one would hope for in a brand-new project from an artist with such a distinct sound—something different. 

The moderate crowd size made for the kind-of intimate night any fan would love to experience with an artist. Regardless of the size, the crowd was completely engaged from start to finish, even the portion that Pierre dubbed “songs you may or may not know” which included “My Girl Margo” to be released on an EP in 2019. He also performed songs from one of his less poppy side projects, Farewell Continental. 

As promised, Pierre included three Motion City Soundtrack songs. The band left the stage while Pierre gave a powerful solo performance of self-loathing anthems “Stand Too Close,” “When ‘You’re’ Around,” and consistent crowd favorite “L.G.F.A.U.D.” Anyone familiar with Pierre’s writing knows he has been no stranger to self-loathing, but tonight during his almost conversational story-telling he told us that he has learned to love himself. Even with that change of heart Pierre is as humble as ever and really showed a sense of vulnerability and testing the waters with this tour. With nearly 20 years under his belt with MCS alone, there is still such a freshness to his performance as well as the eagerness and even a bit of the uncertainty of a new artist on the rise. He ended the night with a sincere expression of gratitude for the audience, simply stating “My heart is full.”