Sunday, May 10, 2009

Manchester Orchestra at Middle East Downstairs

The bands on the bill Thursday night at Middle East have to fight hard to be heard. They struggle not with technical problems, but with a city transfixed by the Celtic’s triple overtime playoff fight. Bands come and go as the majority of the audience give them only glancing attention, between shouts and cries at three point shots in final seconds, and desperate fouls.

Andy Hull of headliner act Manchester Orchestra knows how to handle this problem: don’t beat ‘em, join ‘em. As crowds huddle around the one old TV in the place, a bearded and hooded Hull pushes past to see the final moments of the game. Only once it’s all over does he turn and move past the boundary to the backstage to prepare to play.

When he appears on stage, he is also smart enough to open with the line “Fuck the Bulls.” It doesn’t seem that he needed to win the crowd over with this comment though - They are all with him from the first. Several times his singing is just about drowned out by the audience’s voice as it follows him. The band seem comfortable with this. Perhaps, fresh from their Letterman performance the day before, they are ready for the big-time audiences that are coming to them. We only hope they will keep their feet on the ground enough to write more songs like the vicious “Pride,” and not be swallowed whole by the PR and labels and producers who are surely poised to jump on them.

But things look good for the band in that department – they aren’t taking themselves too seriously, playing a cover of The Proclaimer’s cult classic “I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles)” at one point, between their own rock epics. Manchester Orchestra are a band with a load of potential and a great live show. Check them out, on tour with Audrye Sessions.

No comments: