Manchester Orchestra and The Front Bottoms with Brother Bird

The Sylvee, Madison WI December 5th, 2018
by John Noyd
Posted: Dec 2018
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Manchester Orchester The Sylvee December 5th

Manchester Orchester The Sylvee December 5th

Indie-rockers Manchester Orchestra lets the music do the talking. Singer, guitarist Andy Hull did say hello halfway into their set, but soon apologized for not being very articulate or having much to say. That’s ok - the epic journey he and the band took Madison’s The Sylvee spoke volumes; brazen in its attacks and tender in its celebrations with lyrics placating demons and savoring dreamers, the exceptionally tight unit plummeted thundering depths and reached transcendental heights often within a single song. A seething seizure of light and sound greeted the eager audience as the band book-ended the show with the opening and closing tracks from their latest opus, “A Black Mile to the Surface.” Although the new album dominated the set, choice cuts from every other album burned powerfully next to MO’s latest as their trademark catharsis came fully alive on stage. Bonding the audience in sweet savage sadness, the soul-baring session was bathed in red shadows and blue fog; stalking, white-hot high-beams swept the venue as brawny, longing songs faced blameless anguish, pitching blistering bliss against existential tempests and uniting the crowd in majestic consensus. Concluding with a three-song encore, which included a deep cut from The Black Mile Demos EP, the band finished the night reaffirming their music’s unique ability to draw gravitas and humanity from larger-than-life arrangements and down-to-earth concerns.

Chatty patter came naturally to The Front Bottom’s hard-strumming Brian Sella whose slacker narratives reveled in disheveled debauchery. Spinning winning folk-punk tales backed by a touring band playing two drum kits, guitars, multiple keyboards and violin,  alongside a functioning bar the crew and band-mates frequented during the side-splitting set, TFB’s smart-ass anarchy broke down all walls between them and their rabid fans. The snarky carnival had no problem getting the crowd to participate in every song including the uproarious, “Peace Sign,” where the mosh pit subsided long enough to flash a peace sign and middle finger in response to the song’s dogged insistence.

Brother Bird, whose thirty minute set started in a country-folk vein before turning dark and synthetic, wondered if they were being a downer, too emo. No worries, in a night of dire pariahs exuding groovy retribution, BB’s sultry despair fit right in with the rest of the evening’s misfit visions