Manchester Orchestra delivers the Southern riffs at the Regency Ballroom

Stock photo. Andy Hull of Manchester Orchestra totally not at the Regency Ballroom.
Photo by Savrae/Creative Commons


South by Southwest favorites White Denim helped draw a sizable crowd in support of Manchester Orchestra to the Regency Ballroom on the Friday before Halloween. The Austin, Texas locals did not, however, save for a few ripping solos and a lap around the stage that coincided with some lyrics about running (I think), perform memorably for the sparsely costumed audience.

White Denim played jammy, hip indie rock with, albeit, some interesting twists and breakdowns, and certainly with no lack of musicianship, but the set failed to deliver any standout moments. Instead, it seemed to fade into a background noise of other, similar bands with able musicians at the helm playing decent rock'n'roll to the Coachella generation.

Headliners Manchester Orchestra, on the other hand, delivered where White Denim almost, so close, really, but didn’t. Although named after a city half a world away, this quintet didn’t hide its Atlanta, roots, with booming Southern riffs made for long haired swaying.

Singer Andy Hull’s voice carried the night; his powerful and versatile vocal chords were the perfect accompaniment to songs that often hinged on a transition from Elliot Smith-like emotive indie rock to Weezer-esque arena worship. The crowd was rocking right along with the rest of the band, especially the keyboard player – what is it about keyboard players in rock bands that makes them feel like they have to overcompensate? There was plenty of singing along, dancing and no-joke raised lighters to top it all off.

These songs made up the bulk of the set and, while enjoyable, were relatively formulaic. The most interesting part of Manchester Orchestra’s set was not these anthems, but instead the several shorter songs interspersed throughout: a handful of minute or so long tunes reminiscent of Billy Bragg or early Against Me! that showcased Hull’s songwriting prowess. Sappy? Perhaps. Awesome? Indeed.


Perhaps I am getting old...but it seems there is no longer an Editorial role when it comes to the "published" word.

The writer describes two bands by contrasting and comparing them. One is described as "interesting twists and breakdowns" and "ripping solos" but is not "memorable"? Well, which one is it? Ripping or not memorable?

The other band is "formulaic", "sappy"...and "awesome". Those adjectives would never be used together to describe something of musical value in my world.

I would also offer that you might consider resorting less to the rather unimaginative metaphors like "Weezer-esque arena worship" and "long haired swaying" and rely on more of the reality of the evening. The soundman was horrible! That actually might have had more to do with your experience than you know. And even if you are not knowledgable enough to pick that up on your own...listen to what people discuss at the event. I could not use the restroom without overhearing that running comment. White Denim will open for Wilco in a few months...$5 says more experienced ears will hear something different...

Posted by Guest on Nov. 01, 2011 @ 8:22 am