Manchester Orchestra Captivates a Sold Out First Avenue


If you haven’t been able to tell, I’m on a bit of a concert bender. It feels so good to be back in it but going from one show a week to being out nearly every night has taken its toll on me. All of the shows lately have been great but I needed one that sparked that fire inside of me that could remind me to keep going and that’s exactly what I got on Tuesday night.

Up first was a personal favorite of mine, Michigander. If you’ve been following me for any bit of time, you’ll know that I’m a bit obsessed with this Michigan-based band. April 28th, 2017 was the first time I stumbled upon Michigander and now I just can’t get enough. No matter what else is going on in town or in my life, I will never miss a chance to catch them live and their quick opening set on Tuesday was exactly what I needed. From watching them open for Flint Eastwood back in 2017 to seeing them at a fairly empty Icehouse show in 2018 to seeing them play a packed 7th Street Entry last October– being able to watch this band get the attention they deserve has been absolutely amazing and seeing them perform on the mainstage at the legendary First Avenue was just what I needed to remind myself to keep going.

Although I was skeptical that they may get swallowed up by the enormity of the stage, the entire band held their own. It honestly felt more like an Entry show than a main room performance with the way that vocalist Jason Singer still interacted with the crowd with his signature quirkiness while performing and not holding back from a single note. The amount of power that this band showed on stage was staggering and although people were still trickling in as they blasted through their opening set, I definitely think they turned some heads and got some much-deserved chatter going. With a few hit songs out these days, it was heartwarming to see some of the audience singing along and seeing that dazzling smile grace Jason and the rest of his band’s faces. My obsession with Michigander will continue for the foreseeable future and I know it’s been less than twelve hours since I saw them perform but I’m ready for another performance!

I honestly don’t know why I never really got into Foxing, the next band to take the stage. For some reason, this Saint Louis, Missouri bred band just never hit my radar but that will all change after seeing them perform on Tuesday. I guess if you had to, you could classify Foxing’s music as half indie-rock and half post-rock but honestly, it is so much more than that, and seeing whatever it is you would call it live is absolutely jaw-dropping. Much like the headliners of the night, their music has this perfect balance of beautiful ambiance and frantic chaos. Maybe that’s why I never really got into them. The slower, more ambient parts of their tracks are, well, slow, but the way they build out of nowhere and explode is amazing. I honestly just don’t think I ever got to that point in their tracks.

Foxing’s live show matched the energy of music. There were moments where you could clearly see vocalist Conor Murphy feeling the tenderness and emotion of the words he was singing and other moments where you could see almost a sense of panic in his face as the band would reach a chaotic moment in a track. I loved how you could see the physical reflection of the balance that this band does so well and it made it a stand-out live show that will not be soon forgotten. Sure, I may have never gotten huge into their music but I have no good reason for that and plan on spending the majority of today going back through their material to realize what magic I have been missing out on.

Headlining the completely sold-out show on Tuesday night was the one and only Manchester Orchestra. Although not a full orchestra, this band from Atlanta, GA has a sound that is huge as if coming from a giant orchestra and it’s a sound I have been craving lately. Much like Foxing, Manchester Orchestra has this way of doing slow-burn songs that will explode into an emotional ball of energy in such a beautiful way. Their nearly twenty-song set was a perfect culmination of this band’s six-album career but it still wasn’t enough for me or the rest of the audience. Manchester Orchestra is one of those bands that could play for hours on hours and it still would not be enough. There’s just something so magical about the energy they give off when performing live.

Manchester Orchestra has been around since 2004 and I have had the privilege of catching them live multiple times now. One thing that continues to stand out to me about their live performances is just how they never really change musically yet you can hear and see the band evolve throughout the years. It’s this odd thing where they have such a distinct sound that they stick to so their sound never really changes yet you can see new movements, new ideas, and new themes pop up over the years if you really pay attention. What I’m trying to say is that this band is legendary whether they are a household name or not and it was an absolute treat to witness their genius on the legendary First Avenue stage on Tuesday night.