Manchester Orchestra – Express! Live, Columbus (9th December 2018)

No surprise to the concert-goers of Columbus that Manchester Orchestra once again took the stage by force at Express! Live over the weekend. This time headlining local radio station CD102.5’s Holiday Show Side B amongst opener Souther, and their actual tour mates for this leg, Shannen Moser and The Front Bottoms. The show sent out some unique mashup vibes from the get-go. Beginning with Columbus-native indie gem Souther, followed by the quiet, americana stylings of Shannen Moser, and ending with a wild performance by pop punk-indie rock gang The Front Bottoms.

The Front Bottoms had an outstanding performance with an insane amount of stage presence, including an on-stage bar gimmick where they had rotating extra band members trickle in and out. It was a high energy gig and once they finished, many of their fans actually cycled out of their spots. The slight division of fan base was evident; the performances between TFB and Manchester Orchestra vary in ways. However, the energy that both put forward is inarguable.

Following the release of their fifth full-length album, ‘A Black Mile To The Surface’, Manchester Orchestra started their set in the pitch black of the concert hall while opening into its lead-off track ’The Maze’. Adding in some flashes of strobe only brought the intensity and somberness of ‘The Moth’. But nothing could beat the moment when frontman and creative genius Andy Hull lurched into the fierce classic ‘Shake It Out’. 

Manchester Orchestra

This brings about the largest difference between TFB and MO– it is a comparison of continuous haste and pure aggression. Both have their moments of somberness reflection, but Hull has mastered the art of flowing through a simple, serious song into a crowd-headbanger. Specifically with a set that showcases most of the tracks off of their most recent album, as they should. ‘A Black Mile To The Surface’ was easily one of the top rock albums of last year, which not only literally but figuratively was like preaching to the choir of the people of Express! Live.

The setlist continued to please with classics such as, ‘Simple Math’, ‘I Can Feel A Hot One’, and ’Cope’. Continuing on with the encore, the guys had to play their recent top hit, ‘The Gold’. The most unexpected moment was the calming show closer of ‘100 Dollars’, which is a pretty straightforward, take-it-or-leave-it song. Not something that hypes up a crowd, but more in part calms all down and brings you back to the core values that make up MO.

The boys of Manchester Orchestra are finishing up their U.S. tour dates this week- so we will have to stay tuned about their upcomings for this next year!