It may have been two years since Manchester Orchestra’s last official tour and full-length album release, but the time spent off the road has only made them stronger and their fans’ anticipation greater. The sold-out show last Friday night at the Music Farm was their first stop and was overflowing with a loyal crowd shouting back every word to Andy Hull’s passionate roars.
Kicking the show off with a loud and heavy set was O’Brother, a group of Atlanta natives who hair tossed hard as they did powerful guitar riffs. Belonging to Favorite Gentlemen, the record label owned by Andy Hull of Manchester Orchestra, they’ve been praised for their simple yet textural depth. Greg Fisher with Sputnik Music summed up their sound in his description, a combination of “the vulnerability of indie rock with the crushing heaviness of sludge metal.” The Front Bottoms took the stage next, lightening the heavy mood with quirky story-telling lyrics and a sound comprised of indie, folk and pop-punk elements. The boys had an evidently strong following amongst the crowd as people began dancing and crowd surfing as they sang along and even attempting to request an encore. The material they performed off their album released earlier this year, Talon of the Hawk, is no doubt as catchy and youthful as their stage presence. For instance, drummer, Mathew Uychich, jumped into the crowd and bassist, Tom Warran, challenged himself to drink an entire bottle of champagne during their set for his 33rd birthday. If you haven’t heard of the group yet, you should visit their website to stream their album.
“Shake it out, shake it out,” were the first few passionate words out of Andy Hull’s mouth as Manchester Orchestra filed on stage and began their promising set list. Compiled of well-loved tracks from the past three full-length albums, their dynamic sound balanced solemn humming and fierce rock chords throughout. They kept their performance primarily uninterrupted with distorted interludes linking together tracks such as “Pensacola,” “Pale Black Eye,” “100 Dollars,” “Virgin,” and “I’ve Got Friends.” While the majority of the songs were oldies, Manchester treated their fans’ to a preview of two new compositions that, according to Andy, would be on the new album if it were out. Titled “The Ocean” and “Cope,” also the headline of their tour, they were an exceptional indication of an auspicious new album.
While the un-interrupted style of the show allowed for a deeper appreciation of the atmosphere, the few glimpses into the band’s personality were a more authentic connection that they should’ve emphasized. The few bits Andy spoke made it easy to hear his down-to-earth personality, like when the crowd attempted to make a mosh pit. He laughed, gave them props and during the next slow climb, light-heartedly said “Get ready, it’s about to drop!” Those small comments also helped to break up the emotionally heavy content of Manchester Orchestra. Ending on a soft note with “The River,” it was evident how enraptured the audience was as they took a few moments to soak up the somber outro before erupting into applause and chanting for an encore. Once they rushed back on stage, Manchester concluded with “Simple Math,” and “After The Scripture,” a song featured on the Dallas Buyers Club soundtrack that was released only last week. The two compositions led into the final six-minute ballad of “Where Have You Been?” and Andy’s voice trailing off with the compassionate lyrics “when you look at me, I’ll be digesting your legs… cause I can hardly see what’s in front of me these days, … and those days, too.”