Manchester Orchestra | 05.03.11

Nearly every song was a crowd-pleaser; even seated concertgoers couldn’t help being swept away, swaying to the music.



The Pageant, St. Louis

Manchester Orchestra’s reputation as an amazing live band was the first thing I heard about them. Across the board, there was nothing but compliments on their live show. And once the five-piece from Atlanta, Georgia took the stage and played their first notes, I knew the hype was true.

The night started with punk act Harrison Hudson from Nashville, Tennessee. Though they got the crowd to chuckle during vocalist Harrison Hudson’s ode to Katy Perry, the audience was pretty stubbornly waiting for the headliners to start. Even the indie-rock charms of An Horse, a two-piece from Brisbane, Australia, couldn’t crack the crowd’s focus. People bobbed along and clapped politely, enjoying the band well enough but still obviously waiting for Manchester Orchestra.

When they did come on stage at 9:15, the mood at the Pageant changed. With the balcony closed, the setting was more intimate than a fully packed show and the lights were more moody than they’d been for the cheerier, sweeter set from An Horse. The darker stage and flashing lights fit Manchester Orchestra’s heavy bass and drums, and guitars and keyboard built a complex wall of sound that crashed around the room while Hull’s high-pitched nasal wail echoed in the empty balcony. The room swelled with energy as the crowd, happy to be done waiting, cheered far louder than they had yet that night.

Though it’s supposed to be the Simple Math tour, promoting songs from Manchester Orchestra’s newest release, only three of the 19 songs played were from the latest album —“April Fool,” “Pensacola,” and the title track, “Simple Math.” The set began with four songs from their 2009 release Mean Everything to Nothing —“Shake It Out,” “Pride,” “100 Dollars,” and “In My Teeth.”

The energy in the room ebbed and flowed as Manchester Orchestra’s songs heated up and cooled down. A block of fans, at the front and center of the floor crowd, screamed and danced and pumped their fists in the air. Throughout the set people held up lighters periodically, until Hull finally instructed, “Everybody, let’s have a digital campfire. Raise your cell phones in the air!” and bright cell phone screens joined the flames dotting the Pageant floor.

Nearly every song was a crowd-pleaser; people were singing along to “Now That You’re Home,” “I Can Barely Breathe,” and “Everything To Nothing.” Even seated concertgoers couldn’t help being swept away, swaying to the music. Late in the set they covered the little-known Neutral Milk Hotel song “Holland 1945,” which followed “Sleeper 1972.”

Just past 11 p.m., the band finished with “Where Have You Been?” leaving the distorted feedback of the guitars ringing as The Pageant turned the lights on and employees ushered everyone home. There was no encore, and the ending was kind of sudden, but fans didn’t care. As everyone closed their tabs and ambled out into the chilly Tuesday night, there was a general feeling of content and post-storm calm. | Eva Connors



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