Concert Review: Manchester Orchestra at the Uptown

The talented Ms. Wiebe already covered Brand New’s Uptown Theater performance from last night, so I’m going to focus on the opening acts — Manchester Orchestra and Sybris.

Sybris was a four piece that sounded like Bjork fronting every mid-to-late ’90s post-hardcore band ever. Lead singer and frontwoman Angela Mullenhour had a speaking voice like any regular woman from the midwest, only to sing in a croon that also at times brought to mind Regina Spektor. The band itself took a lot of musical cues from the shoegaze indie rock of an act like Hum. The vocal stylings started to grate after a bit, but it was certainly refreshing to hear a band that wasn’t fronted by a dude with a poor singing voice.

The poor singing voice was actually the milieu of the Manchester Orchestra’s Robert McDowell. I liked everything else about the band: the songs that sounded like an entire set of Ozma’s “Battlescars” or Weezer’s “Only In Dreams,” the occasional forays into drop-D tuning that gave the act an occasionally ominous rumbling, and Andy Hull’s frantic bobbing as he rocked out keyboard parts or worked double drum parts in sync with Jeremiah Edmond.

McDowell, though, I can live without. It didn’t help that the early part of the band’s set was plagued with minor feedback issues, but his voice was that “singer who can’t really sing” style unfortunately common in the emo-indie world (see also: Piebald’s Travis Shettel). If I could’ve dropped him out of the mix, I would have enjoyed the set far more.

As it was, the venue was packed, and the kids went berserk for all the bands, with enthusiasm ratcheting up steadily as the night wore on. I was there from shortly after the doors opened until halfway through Brand New’s set, and I’ve never seen so many kids singing along for so long. There was a point where the kids were actually getting the words out before Jesse Lacey.

Categories: Music