Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Manchester Orchestra and The Features - March 23, 2010

It takes one hell of a confident, or just brave, band to have the likes of The Features open for you. The Tennessee quartet has the kind of raucous, fiery sound that fits in perfectly with Manchester Orchestra's passionate brand of anthemic rock. The band opened the set just like their brilliant sophomore album, with the brief organ-grinder oddity "Whatever Gets You By" before erupting into the chugging, energetic riffs of "The Drawing Board". The hard-charging rocker exploded off the stage with sandpapered soulful vocals and cymbals crashing all around. The emotional, belted-out hook of "The Temporary Blues" played well against the subdued verses for the chest-pumping anthem. Party-starter, "Lions" proved the biggest shout-a-long of the set, as you could see more and more of the typically motionless Chicago crowd begin to move along to the beat.

The more defined southern feel of, new song, "Big Mamma" fit in great with the rest of the set, leaving you longing for the upcoming third album. Metro is the mid-sized venue in the city with a boatload of history behind it, but the band held their own on the stage. Their experience opening for Kings Of Leon in Europe has prepared them well for the larger stages they deserve. With hints of feel-good punk, swaggering blues, and even a bit of rockabilly, The Features all but made concert-goers forget they were really there for Manchester Orchestra. The fierce foursome were only on-stage for half-an-hour, leaving you with the thought, 'holy sh*t, when are they coming back?' Encores are a no-no for opening bands, but it would have been hard to blame The Features had they played one. They earned it.

Atlanta's Manchester Orchestra took the stage just fifteen short minutes later, quickly ratcheting up the intensity with the menacing metal-laced "Pride". It took no time for front man Andy Hull to put his searing tenor to good use firing up the crowd. The quietly shimmering backing "100 Dollars" served as a nice contrast to the gritted-teeth vocals, leading into the eruption of "In My Teeth" and frenzied, faster-paced take on "Shake It Out"; sending much of the crowd into fist-pumping delirium. The shaggy take on "Everything To Nothing" proved a nice change of pace mid-set, as the band tore into their version of a power ballad. Hull announced the impending summer release of their third album before unleashing the grubby southern stomp and wild laughing hook of "I Don't Know Anymore", said to be on the new album.

Stormy rocker "I Can Barely Breathe" showcased Hull's raw intensity, which drives the songs every bit as much as the thrusting music. Unfortunately, the haunting, extended jam take on "Where Have You Been?" marked one of only two songs played off their debut. The the early curfew shackled to Metro prevented more than an hour and fifteen minute set, though concert-goers would have gladly stayed for twice that time to hear more. It left fan-favorites like "Wolves At Night" and "The Neighborhood Is Bleeding" with no room on a setlist chock-full of heavier rockers from the latest album. With no time left for an encore, the stripped-down, pensive "I Can Feel A Hot One" served as an anti-climatic closer. Still, it is hard to argue that the sold-out crowd did not get their money's worth out of the smoldering set.

100 Dollars
In My Teeth
Shake It Out
Everything To Nothing
I Don't Know Anymore*
I Can Barely Breathe
My Friend Marcus
The River
Where Have You Been?
I've Got Friends
I Can Feel A Hot One

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