Tag Archives: Manchester Orchestra


Manchester Orchestra Get Loud at Terminal 5

May 23rd, 2014

Manchester Orchestra – Terminal 5 – May 22, 2014

Manchester Orchestra – Terminal 5 – May 22, 2014
In what felt like the loudest show at Terminal 5 in a long time, last night, Georgia quintet Manchester Orchestra spent well over an hour eviscerating the eardrums of their fans from the mosh pit up front to the couches on the third floor. Song after song, the heavy distortion of both Andy Hull’s and Robert McDowell’s guitars was inescapable no matter where you moved throughout the venue, while Andy Prince’s bass and Chris Freeman’s keyboards filled in much of the rest of the sonic space. Tim Very’s drumming, which has become its own spectacle since he joined the band a few years ago, rounded out the band’s massive sound. Few drummers look like they hit cymbals and skins as hard as Very, who seems to use every bit of motion he can muster to crash along the beat with a force that makes you wonder how he doesn’t break his drums, let alone his sticks.

The band, fresh off the April release of their fourth studio album, Cope, skewed older in their set list. While the new album’s thunderous beats and ear-shredding riffs seem primed for exposure on this tour, it’s hard to imagine anyone in the crowd complaining that they got to see the now rarely played “Colly Strings” and “I Can Barely Breathe.” In fact, not even much of Manchester Orchestra’s second-to-last release made it into the set, with just the two fan favorites in “Pensacola” and “Pale Black Eye” being played. No, most of the set list was culled from the band’s debut LP and its follow-up, Mean Everything to Nothing, which ended up being a perfectly heavy complement to the new tracks they performed. Over the years, Manchester Orchestra have played in just about every little venue there is in this city, but their increasingly gigantic sound has finally been putting them in increasingly bigger venues—and boy does it suit them. Just ask one of the thousands of people whose ears will be ringing all holiday weekend. —Sean O’Kane

Photos courtesy of Sean O’Kane | seanokanephoto.com


Manchester Orchestra Electrify Music Hall of Williamsburg

November 14th, 2013

Manchester Orchestra – Music Hall of Williamsburg – November 13, 2013

Before last night, it had been more than two years since Manchester Orchestra’s last proper headlining show in any one of the five boroughs. And after all that time, their return, last night at Music Hall of Williamsburg, was met with the frenzied enthusiasm of a sold-out crowd for the Georgia band’s electrifying set. If you take adages to heart, that one about absence making the heart grow fonder seemed to apply pretty completely.

With their musical teeth as sharp as ever, the five-piece rock band came out swinging with “Shake It Out,” one of the most brash songs off their second album, 2009’s Mean Everything to Nothing. The tune hit the crowd quickly with its assaulting, distortion-heavy guitars and lead singer Andy Hull’s snarling wail. It set the tone for the rest of the set as Manchester Orchestra performed some of their heavier songs to complement the two new tracks they played, which skewed in that same sonic direction. They included “Virgin,” one of the band’s darkest songs from their 2011 release, Simple Math, as well as Mean Everything’s last two numbers, “Everything to Nothing” and “The River,” with a smooth transition in between.

More melodic songs like “Pensacola” and “Pale Black Eye” even carried a little extra thump. But there was still time for total surprises, however, as tunes like heartbreak-anthem “Colly Strings” and Andy Hull’s go-to, a cover of Willie Nelson’s “The Party’s Over,” fit neatly into the set list. And because of their absence, Manchester Orchestra were actually afforded something they had never truly had before this tour—the ability to keep fans wondering which song was coming next, and they took full advantage. Their set took dynamic twists and turns, and the crowd of fans that had waited so long sang every word right back at them without breaking their starry-eyed gaze. —Sean O’Kane

Photos courtesy of Sean O’Kane | seanokanephoto.com


Bad Books Play Their Biggest Show to Date

July 15th, 2013

Bad Books – Webster Hall – July 12, 2013

As individuals and as a band, the members of Bad Books are no strangers to New York City. Singer Kevin Devine is from here, and he and the rest of his bandmates (also known as Manchester Orchestra) have played in just about every room this city has to offer. But Friday night at Webster Hall was the biggest local show Bad Books, formed in 2010, have played so far. Their shows are always loose and fun, and the often-silly relationship between cofrontmen Devine and Andy Hull was obvious as they busted out a Simon & Garfunkel–like version of the theme song to The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.

The rest of the set had that same sort of loose and carefree vibe, and the band clicked so well that they’re nothing but a total joy to watch perform. And now with two albums, Bad Books have found a way to mix a variety of kinds of songs, from steamy, seething rock, like “Please Move,” to quieter hold-your-breath tunes, like “Ambivalent Peaks.”

But it would be remiss not to mention that the opener, the Front Bottoms, whipped the sold-out crowd into a frenzy. Hailing from New Jersey, this former duo turned full band has been gaining an almost unstoppable momentum—not to mention a rapidly growing fan base. In what was also one of their biggest shows, the Front Bottoms made sure to get their time’s worth, going onstage early to bust out a wild set full of their signature sound while their fans put on a dizzying crowd-surfing display. It might seem difficult to find a unique band these days, but you need look no further than these guys. Their graduation into one of the bigger rooms in the city couldn’t have gone better. —Sean O’Kane

Photos courtesy of Sean O’Kane | seanokanephoto.com


Bad Books, Good Show

February 21st, 2013

Bad Books – The Bowery Ballroom – February 20, 2013

Returning to the room where they made their live debut in 2010, the combo group of Bad Books put on an arresting show last night at The Bowery Ballroom. The visible difference this time around was how tight the band was, whether it was the louder, faster-paced “You Wouldn’t Have to Ask” or the blood-boiling simmer of “Please Move.” This was thanks to the band—Kevin Devine and the members of Manchester Orchestra—having another album’s worth of material and a bit more experience playing the songs together.

There was even a noticeable difference during the slow acoustic songs (which is not something new to singers Devine and Andy Hull, who have played together acoustically for years), and those moments were elevated by those in the attentive crowd embracing total silence, their gazes fixed on the two singers harmonizing onstage. It was the kind of special moment both frontmen have cultivated in their solo performances, and it was nice to see it translate to a slightly different setting.

The rapport shared by Devine and Hull is reason alone to see Bad Books perform, and that was an important part of the show as well. The two cracked jokes throughout the set, but their bizarre humor was never more evident than when Hull introduced a “new song” by claiming, “This is the first song that Kevin and I legitimately wrote together,” before easing into half of a cover of Hootie and the Blowfish’s “Let Her Cry.” —Sean O’Kane

Photos courtesy of Sean O’Kane | seanokanephoto.com


Circa Survive – Terminal 5 – September 14, 2012

September 17th, 2012

Photos courtesy of Hilary J. Corts | www.hilaryjcorts.com


A Formidable One-Two Punch

November 14th, 2011

Manchester Orchestra/White Denim – The Wellmont Theatre – November 13, 2011

Watching Manchester Orchestra blaze through its set at The Wellmont Theatre last night, the one word that kept popping into my mind was emotional. The music, largely pulled from the new album, Simple Math, as written and sung by frontman Andy Hull feels very autobiographical, and the emotions seemed to pour out in a very literal fashion. Angry songs sounded angry, apologetic songs had an apologetic feel but all the songs felt honest … and loud; very loud and intense. Most bands come out and ask, “How are you all feeling tonight?” But Manchester Orchestra played like some metaphysical therapist had asked the clichéd “How does that make you feel?”—and then supplied more than the shrink had bargained for.

The set began with “Deer,” as the album does, and everyone in the audience sang along from the start, like they’d spent considerable time listening to the disc on repeat and that they felt everything there was to feel in lyrics like “Dear everyone I ever really knew/ I acted like an asshole so I could keep my edge on you.” While the album has the subtleties of strings and well-polished harmonies to give it an almost operatic feel, the live versions were 100 percent visceral. It was like the difference between watching a well-orchestrated football game on television and getting flattened by a 250 lb. linebacker. Hull dripped with that emotion in every song as the band backed him doubly: double guitars, sometimes double drums and double-wide beards. Through new songs like “Pensacola” and older favorites like “100 Dollars” and “I’ve Got Friends,” the fist-pumping crowd was left to wonder how to summon those feelings every night.

In the opening slot, the guys in White Denim crammed as many musical ideas as they could into their 45-minute set, like a fortified cereal brimming with all of the recommended daily allowances. Barely pausing to take a breath, their 20-plus-minute stretches of songs and prog jams and instrumentals strung together to confound an unsuspecting audience that didn’t know when or if to applaud. Working almost exclusively off this year’s release, D, the band proved to be, once again, at the top of its high-energy game. The mixture of technical skill, tight interplay and brain-boogie songwriting proved to be a perfect Sunday night foil for Manchester Orchestra’s gut-punch set. —A. Stein

Photos courtesy of Sean O’Kane | seanokanephoto.com


Don’t Miss Manchester Orchestra on Sunday

November 11th, 2011

Some bands hatch fully formed, some peak early and others steadily improve, like a fine wine. Andy Hull (vocals and rhythm guitar) started writing songs in high school in suburban Atlanta. And while the tunes might not have been fully formed, he began to flesh them out with friends Jonathan Corley (bass) and Jeremiah Edmond (drums). Soon enough, Manchester Orchestra was born. (The name comes from the English city that begat the likes of Oasis, Joy Division and the Smiths.) With Tim Very replacing Edmond and Chris Freeman (keys) and Robert McDowell (lead guitar) joining, the band eventually became a five-piece. The group’s first full-length, I’m Like a Virgin Losing a Child, came out in 2006. And with the release of each successive EP and a LP, including this year’s Simple Math, the band’s storytelling has gotten tighter and its sound has improved. And you can see Manchester Orchestra (above, playing “Virgin” on Late Show with David Letterman) on Sunday at The Wellmont Theatre. Do yourself a favor and don’t miss the opener, White Denim.


Twice the Headliners, Twice the Fun

May 12th, 2011

Manchester Orchestra/Cage the Elephant – Terminal 5 – May 11, 2011

Manchester Orchestra - Terminal 5 - May 11, 2011

Manchester Orchestra - Terminal 5 - May 11, 2011

Some bands are extremely nervous when they play their biggest-to-date headlining shows in this city, something both wholly understandable and often noticeable. If the nerves were there last night when Manchester Orchestra hit the Terminal 5 stage following coheadliner Cage the Elephant’s excellent set, they were certainly well hidden. Instead of loosely tripping over one another and making mistakes, the guys in the band were especially unified. And instead of pandering to the massive crowd, lead singer Andy Hull actually challenged them.

After a heavy start that inspired much fist-pumping (not the ironic kind, either), Hull called an audible with “I Can Barely Breathe,” a fairly deep cut from their first LP, I’m Like a Virgin Losing a Child. The crowd sustained the energy from early in the set and it was noticed. “That was, like, a test … and you guys are fans,” said the taken-aback Hull in praise of the audience. Even though he had the crowd he was looking for, the tests continued: During the cacophonous end of “Now That You’re Home,” he reached for the emergency brake that was the haunting “Sleeper 1972,” bringing the sold-out venue to a quiet standstill.

As the crowd continued to meet (and seemingly exceed) Hull’s expectations, he rewarded them in a few different ways. Manchester Orchestra played “Colly Strings,” another deep cut from their debut album that was screamed for throughout the night. And then the frontman began deferring to the crowd for help in choosing among other songs as the set wound to a close—often it was tracks from the band’s day-old new record, Simple Math, the songs from which sounded remarkable performed live. —Sean O’Kane

Photos courtesy of Gregg Greenwood | www.gregggreenwood.com


Sometimes Bad Books Are Really Good

October 21st, 2010

Bad Books – The Bowery Ballroom – October 20, 2010

Bad Books - The Bowery Ballroom - October 20, 2010
They fumbled while tuning their guitars, nervously laughed through some banter and shouted out chord changes to one another a few times. But these signs of a new band didn’t faze the experienced members of Bad Books. “Guys, I feel awesome right now,” said cofrontman Andy Hull as they began their first-ever show. Along with Kevin Devine (who helped open the CMJ Music Marathon the night before), the members of the Manchester Orchestra make up what is known as Bad Books, a new band that Hull was sure to explain was not a side project.

As they played through their set last night at The Bowery Ballroom, the band shook off first-show jitters and began to belt out incredible material from their self-titled debut album. Up to four of the six members would sing at times, with Devine and Hull splitting the lead duties. Devine took the lead on a few joyous-sounding songs like (as they joked) their “hit single,” “You Wouldn’t Have to Ask,” and “Holding Down the Laughter.” Hull, meanwhile, was in charge of the louder, grittier fare, like “Please Move,” but also the most hushed moments: It’s a thing of beauty to watch him quiet a room with just a guitar and his voice (which he also did in an opening slot with his other other solo band, Right Away, Great Captain!).

The main set ended with a song called “Texas,” which featured just Devine and Hull, with the latter singing on guitar and the former shrouded in darkness on the drums. The entire band reformed for an encore with the 9:45 p.m. curfew looming, but instead of cutting a few songs, they smilingly hurried through them all, furiously playing a few of their own tunes from those other bands like a kid trying to finish his homework before class. —Sean O’Kane

Photos courtesy of Sean O’Kane | seanokanephoto.com

My Five: Johnny Beach

July 6th, 2009
Mission accomplished

Mission accomplished

Johnny Beach is a Renaissance man. He has been in his current position as The Bowery Ballroom talent buyer for more than two years. Prior to that, he served as Mercury Lounge talent buyer for four years. But he’s been shotgunning beers for considerably longer. Check out his insight below.

The Middle East, The Recordings of the Middle East
They are called the Middle East, but they’re from Australia. (Not sure how that came about.) While they are still virtually unknown here in the States—which will all change very soon—the Middle East is starting to make a name for themselves in their homeland. Spunk Records (home of Arcade Fire, Animal Collective, the Shins, M. Ward in Australia and New Zealand) recently released their debut EP. Listen to the song “Blood” and you’ll become a believer.

The Antlers, Hospice
They self-released the best record of an NYC band so far this year, which will receive a proper release via FrenchKiss Records later this summer. This captivating three-piece band sounds completely at home on the haunting “Kettering” as well as the more rocking “Syliva” and “Two.” They’ve recently supported the Walkmen, Vetiver, White Rabbits and others, but they should be headlining shows in the not-too-distant future. Plus, these guys are improving their ability to shotgun beers.

Centro-matic, Love You Just the Same
This record is by no means a new one, but I cannot help but include it. It’s safe to say that Centro-matic is the most underrated band in America. I got to see Will Johnson play two solo sets recently and it further proves that he has one of the best voices I’ve ever heard. He is quite the prolific songwriter—in Centro-matic, South San Gabriel and also on a few records just as Will Johnson. So while you should go out and spend $150 now to buy his entire catalog, this one might be the best place to start.

Manchester Orchestra, Mean Everything to Nothing
They hail from Atlanta, and while they are still quite young, they already have some sweet beardage and are a well-oiled rock machine. They’ve toured a lot in the emo-kiddie world, but they would be equally at home opening for the likes of My Morning Jacket. Their new record is stacked with a bunch of sweet jams—check out “The Only One” and “I’ve Got Friends” and the more mellow but equally awesome “I Can Feel a Hot One.” They’ll be touring with Silversun Pickups throughout August.

Telekinesis, Telekinesis
This record has really grown on me in the past couple of months and now it’s in constant rotation. It’s basically just a 21-year-old dude named Michael Lerner, and Chris Walla from Death Cab for Cutie produced it. I saw them live for the first time recently, but became quite worried a few days before the gig when I found out the drummer sings. (I am still plagued by weekly Phil Collins nightmares.) But I was pleasantly surprised when Telekinesis pulled it off quite well. The disc is filled with sweet, straight-up-catchy pop songs. And who can argue with that?

And also my top-five beers to shotgun:

1. Tecate
2. Pabst Blue Ribbon
3. Budweiser
4. King Cobra
5. Modelo


Manchester Orchestra – The Bowery Ballroom – April 29, 2009

April 30th, 2009

Manchester Orchestra -The Bowery Ballroom - April 29, 2009Andy Hull’s dimly lit figure loomed over The Bowery Ballroom crowd as he strummed the brooding opening notes of the six-minute “Pride.” Although it was an impressive start, it implied that Manchester Orchestra was about to play a show similar to their previous New York City performances—powerful and passionate, yet seemingly disengaged. Once the coarse song ended, however, Hull started calling audibles to his bandmates, and just one tune later, the band (and the audience) were smirking their way through a cover of Paul Simon’s “Me and Julio Down by the Schoolyard.”

The rest of Manchester Orchestra’s set loosened up with the band’s personality. They took time between songs to joke with the crowd, call out rambunctious fans and even take shots at themselves (like when guitarist Robert McDowell developed a sneezing fit). Instead of focusing on material from their week-old album, Mean Everything to Nothing, the band split time with the best from their first LP, I’m Like a Virgin Losing a Child—a move appreciated by the concertgoers, who shook the Ballroom’s floor during the screamer “Now That You’re Home.”

Still, the maturity shown in Manchester Orchestra’s new record translated to a more wholly enthralling performance. Their newest songs provided the most polished moments of the 14-song set, which lasted more than an hour. They showed they can still pump out powerful and passionate music while truly engaging the crowd. And with a chaotic, airborne-instrument performance of “Where Have You Been?” Manchester Orchestra completed one of the best shows The Bowery Ballroom will have this year. It was so good that after the band left the stage and never returned for the all-too obligatory encore, the sold-out crowd cheered and waited with the lights on until they absolutely had to leave. —Sean O’Kane

Photos courtesy of Sean O’Kane | seanokanephoto.com

Manchester Orchestra Tonight at The Bowery Ballroom

April 29th, 2009

On the heels of its second full-length album, Mean Everything to Nothing, released just last week, the young Atlanta band Manchester Orchestra has set out on a U.S. tour through the beginning of June. That very tour reaches the Lower East Side tonight as they play The Bowery Ballroom. The show is sold out. So if you’re not fortunate enough to have a ticket, this spirited performance of “Wolves at Night” on Late Show with David Letterman will have to fill the void. The song may sound familiar because you already know the band’s debut album, I’m Like a Virgin Losing a Child, or because you recognize it from the NHL ’08 soundtrack. Either way, these up-and-comers deserve your attention.

(Video from Late Show with David Letterman, 09/06/07)