Manchester Orchestra took the stage this past Friday night at the Beachland Ballroom with a sold-out crowd in front of them. Given that fact, you would think the band wouldn't have a whole lot to prove. Especially when that band is beloved and on the rise like Manchester Orchestra.
After finding mainstream success with "I've Got Friends" and "Shake It Out" off their previous album, Mean Everything to Nothing, their fanbase - new and old - is at a fever pitch for the release of Simple Math. Still, the relationship between the band and audience seems to be developing.
Manchester Orchestra delivered a typical high energy performance. They opened with "Virgin" from their soon-to-be released disc and its Godzilla-stomp heaviness got the crowd going. From there they went straight into the frenetic, "Shake it Out." If they had stopped the show right there, I am not sure if anyone would have complained as the crowd roared its approval.
There were some awkward moments, though. The crowd bordered on rude at times during quieter, more personal songs, many of which showcase lead singer Anyd Hull's poetic, melodic lyrics at their best. Often, he was trying to will the audience into silence to let his more precious stuff breath, but it wasn't meant to be.
Toned-down moments when Hull was quietly plucking away were met with random screaming, including one girl who screeched a "Golden Ticket!" request during every silent moment, even during songs. Hull would later stop in the middle of one and tell her, "You're the worst." (Harsh? Maybe. But she was insufferable.) He also stopped in the middle of a song to scold the crowd for hurting girls in the tepid mosh pit. "This isn't the Warped Tour," he exclaimed.
He would also later attempt to joke with the audience about LeBron James, but the crowd didn't really care much. There were a couple boos, but mostly it was apathetic tittering. Despite all the distractions, halted songs, and uncooperative crowd, there was plenty of show, too. The crowd seemed more than satisfied as the band closed the hour-plus show with the forthcoming title track, "Simple Math."
With more mainstream success, it seems that the band might be learning some tough lessons about its new-found popularity. If this weekend's Beachland crowd is any indication, they have a whole host of new people to indoctrinate into the highs and quieter lows of Manchester Orchestra's music. The good news is - and I think most people who saw the show would agree - this band is good enough to do it. — Craig Lyndall