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Manchester Orchestra @ Skyway Theater

May 15, 2014

Manchester Orchestra put on a mind-blowingly amazing show at the Skyway Theatre on May 14th 2014.



With a dash of Aerosmith, Kevin Devine and the Goddamn Band took the stage of the Skyway Theatre to a polite smattering of applause. Devine promised “music history with a dash of the debonair”, and while I’m still not sure if we got that, I know for sure we saw one of the most damn fun and energetic opening acts I’ve witnessed in a long time. Devine’s slightly-higher-than-normal voice rang true over songs such as “Fiscal Cliff” and “Private First Class” from their latest album Bubblegum. Propelled by his pogo-ing across the stage, the band blistered through their setlist with energy and aplomb, sending their booming indie-rock all through the venue and building excitement for the rest of the night.



Balance and Composure took the stage to no fanfare or introduction; after doing their own soundcheck, the band launched into their passionate set, heavy on their 2013 album The Things We Think We’re Missing. With only a light-up ghost for front light, Jon Simmons and the rest of the Doylestown, Pennsylvania band lazily made their way through the set, creating a much different, emotional vibe in the room. I say lazily not in a bad way; Balance and Composure have mastered a spacey, almost laconic style of underground emo that, combined with Simmons’s passionate vocals, made for a uniquely affecting set of songs.



Backed by a white drop with “COPE” printed in large, capital black print, Manchester Orchestra stormed the Skyway stage and performed one of the crispest, most entertaining shows I’ve ever seen. The Atlanta natives opened with a favorite from 2009’s Mean Everything to Nothing, “Shake It Out”, that immediately amped up the crowd and set a very strong tone for the rest of their hour and a half set. Never have I seen a band command the room as well as Manchester did tonight. The crowd hung on every word frontman Andy Hull uttered, and swooned over every crescendo and slight pause that the band executed with perfection. Songs such as “Pensacola”, “Pale Black Eye”, and “Pride” filled the room with walls of sound that washed over the awaiting audience, while quieter songs like “One Hundred Dollars” were able to ring true throughout the hall. Kevin Devine made a cameo appearance, along with the ghost from Balance and Composure, to join Hull in the song “42” by Bad Books, a group the two of them put together. Incidentally this might have been the funniest part of the night, as Hull was so entertained by Devine’s ghostly pal that he actually included the two of them in a parody beginning of the song, to the great entertainment of himself and the crowd. Manchester ended the night with a passionate performance of “Where Have You Been?”, after venturing through their entire catalogue, and managed to perform one of the best shows I’ve seen in 2014. I couldn’t think of a better finals distraction.

Jack Tillman