Named after the musically illustrious and perpetually rainy English city of Manchester, there was an unmistakable irony to having grunge-ish indie-rock band, [lastfm link_type="artist_info"]Manchester Orchestra[/lastfm], playing the sunshine-drenched KROQ backyard.
Thankfully, Manchester Orchestra’s intimate acoustic set created a hazy, languorous atmosphere perfect with the heat of the afternoon sun.
So why were we eating Patty Wagon burgers while watching Manchester Orchestra playing their four song set?
This talented band has a lot to celebrate: Manchester Orchestra is officially releasing their new single “April Fool” today, they have a new album called Simple Math coming out in May, and they will soon co-headline an international tour with KROQ favorites, [lastfm link_type="artist_info"]Cage the Elephant[/lastfm].
Hailing from the suburbs of Atlanta, Manchester Orchestra are a lush, lo-fi four-piece with tinges of the evocative bittersweet of [lastfm link_type="artist_info"]Bright Eyes[/lastfm] and the earnest introspection of [lastfm link_type="artist_info"]Brand New[/lastfm] complimented by stripped-down leanings towards the cathartic crunch of [lastfm link_type="artist_info"]Nirvana[/lastfm]-ish guitars.
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While the band is currently a quartet, Manchester Orchestra was missing their bassist Jonathan Corley on stage. Rhythm guitarist-singer-songwriter Andy Hull, lead guitarist Robert McDowell, and keyboardist/percussionist Chris Freeman played a pared-down acoustic version of what a co-worker explained was even more fantastic with their full set of instruments present.
Despite some of the sonic disadvantages of playing an open air show, I was impressed by how dense, yet expansive singer Andy Hull was able to make his voice.
One could draw a couple adequate comparisons to many other vocalists in his genre, but what immediately strikes out is that Hull sounds like a crisper, cleaner, maybe even more brooding [lastfm link_type="artist_info"]Conor Oberst[/lastfm] of Bright Eyes.
Manchester Orchestra are not just another group of saccharine-sweet indie-rock guitar-pluckers; their ruminative music has true depth.
This was especially evident on their first song, “I’ve Got Friends,” which set the tone for the rest of their captivating show.
To be frank, I had never heard Manchester Orchestra before this afternoon. As a general rule, I am not a fan of the indie rock genre, but the dark, melancholic undertones of their sonically distressed melodies mixed with lyrical hints in songs like “In My Teeth,” “April Fool,” and “Shake It Out” won me over with their unadulterated honesty.
They are definitely a band to watch out for. And maybe get a little teary-eyed in the sun with.
Want to hear more of Manchester Orchestra? Check them out on their co-headlining tour with Cage The Elephant!