As Manchester Orchestra took the stage at Water Street Music Hall in Rochester last Friday night, the packed club erupted into screams over the band's confusion at such a welcoming reception in a city where they had been only once before.
For such a young group - according to their average age, they can barely drink legally - the members of Manchester Orchestra have made quite a name for themselves in a period of just five years as a band. And with two albums and a record label - Favorite Gentleman Recordings, headed by former drummer Jeremiah Edmond - under their belt, they show no signs of stopping anytime soon.
Manchester began their set with the song "Pride" off their latest powerhouse of a release Mean Everything to Nothing, launching next into several standout tracks from the album including "100 Dollars," "In My Teeth" and "Shake it Out." Lead singer and songwriter Andy Hull and crew played a wide variety of songs that included two covers and a selection off of their 2006 debut, I'm Like a Virgin Losing a Child.
As the boys of Manchester constantly added to and changed the arrangements of the album versions of their songs, they kept their set lively and the audience interested. The normally upbeat "The Only One," became a slow, acoustic track, only to explode into a heavier electric version at the final chorus, while the impactful "Where Have You Been?" was given an extended instrumental bridge, as well as a sampling of lyrics from friend and labelmate Kevin Devine.
Manchester Orchestra also played a brand new song during their stop in Rochester. Hull prefaced the song, saying, "We'll be recording a new record this summer, and this'll be on it," reinforcing that this band never seems to rest.
The intensity of Manchester's performance was offset by their witty onstage banter. Playful quips between band and audience members, as well as impromptu made-up songs between guitarist Robert McDowell and keyboardist Chris Freeman stood in stark contrast to the overwhelming emotion felt during Hull's singing.
The passion of Manchester's playing was reflected in the audience, which was in almost constant motion from the start of their set. One crowd surfer was almost badly injured as he was yanked over the barrier by security guards. Stopping in the middle of "I've Got Friends," Hull interacted with the crowd surfer and humorously changed the lyrics to his song to fit the situation: "He can't mosh where he wants to anyway."
After the interruption, Hull seamlessly continued the set, demonstrating that Manchester Orchestra has found a unique balance between playing a powerful set, while creating a lighthearted relationship with their audience, an idiosyncrasy that is sure that is sure to make them an enjoyable band to see live for years to come.