Concert Review: O’Brother, The Front Bottoms, and Manchester Orchestra

Tuesday, November 19, 2013: St. Andrew’s Hall, Detroit, Michigan

Unfortunately I couldn’t make it in time to see O’Brother’s full set. They were mid-song when we walked into St. Andrew’s. The stage was awash in red light, casting the band in shadows which completely fit their sound. Dark, mysterious, a little foreboding. I didn’t get to hear their entire set but the two songs I got made me want more.

People began pushing their way forward as soon as O’Brother walked off the stage. Clearly Manchester Orchestra wasn’t the main event for everyone. I hadn’t listened to The Front Bottoms before the concert and seeing the excitement of their fans definitely got me fired up for their set.

The band took the stage, jumping immediately into “Skeleton”, which sent their fans into a frenzy.  Energy filled the venue making it impossible not to get swept up in it all. There was not one person simply standing there watching the show, everyone was moving and a majority were singing along at the top of their lungs. The experience made me an instant fan of the band and I’ll be seeing them live again the next time they come to town.

A path cleared as The Front Bottoms left the stage, leaving plenty of space for me and my cousin, Jen, to squeeze through to the front. We managed to get a perfect spot off to the right of the stage by the door. Plenty of room to rock out and a nice breeze coming through the door to keep us cool.

After what seemed like hours, the music playing over the speakers to fill the gap between sets cut out. The room erupted in applause as the lights turned off and Jesse Frederick’s “Everywhere You Look” (the theme to Full House) began playing. Finally Manchester Orchestra took the stage, drowning out the shouts and applause with “Shake It Out”.

Andy Hull stands over the crowd, more beard than man. It has been just over two years since the band was in Detroit (eight days past the two year anniversary) and the crowd has clearly missed them.  The band is only a few notes into the first track of the night when the first crowd surfer emerges and is passed to the front. Hull looks down and smiles, it is clear that he is just as excited to be back as the crowd is to have them return.

One of the best moments of the night was at the end of “The River” when Hull had to stop playing because he was laughing so hard.  Once he had calmed down, he told the story of someone yelling out “Pearl Jam sucks” a few nights before during that exact moment and making him lose control. He proclaimed the winner of making him lose his concentration during a song was the guy that night who yelled out “Keep your hands off my sister!” Moments like these really make a night memorable, I love when the band interacts with the crowd and doesn’t take themselves too seriously.

The night was over too soon. I walked out of the venue feeling invigorated and, as I always feel after a fantastic show, wanting more.  It was Jen’s first time seeing the band and she assured me that she would go again the next time they come back.  I can only hope that I don’t have to wait another two years for that.

Special thanks to Cyndi Cheaves for providing the photo above. You can find this, and more of her wonderful work on flickr.