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Manchester Orchestra and friends play a thunderous show to a sold out Fillmore

Manchester Orchestra | photo by Matthew Shaver for WXPN

Manchester Orchestra make rock music.  While you could potentially apply any number of hyphenates to their style, they are all extraneous.  They make “rock” music, and, they make it well.  More than a decade in to the game, Andy Hull has one of the most prestigious discography’s in the biz, and he’s barely 31.  Five (technically six) albums, a fistful of EPs, and an ever growing legion of fans that realize that Manchester Orchestra is not here to reinvent rock music, but to save it.

Each album buys them a bigger venue, from North Star Bar, to TLA, to the Temple Performing Arts Center, and finally Sunday night at the Fillmore.  Each step up is paid for in blood and sweat, as they work hard to earn their status as a must-see live act.  Selling out the venue, they did not shy away from fan favorites like “Shake It Out” mingled amongst new material from A Black Mile to the Surface (opening with the triple-threat of “The Maze,” “The Gold,” and “The Moth”).  Every song sounds thunderous, even milder material on the albums comes with a layer of grit on it when Hull’s falsetto goes reaching, straining for the skylights. Continue reading →

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Tonight’s Concert Picks: Ani DiFranco at the Keswick Theatre, Manchester Orchestra at The Fillmore, The Bad Plus at Ardmore Music Hall

Ani DiFranco | Photo by Joe Del Tufo | joedeltufo.com

Singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Ani DiFranco makes a stop at the Keswick Theatre tonight following the release of her recent 20th studio album, Binary. After spending much of 2016 encouraging audiences to vote on her “Vote Dammit!” tour, DiFranco continues her political message with Binary — “As an artist, I like to be out in the world, and what initially compelled me was to try to push society to a better place,” DiFranco says of the album. Spoken word artist and poet Andrea Gibson will also perform. Watch DiFranco’s video for “Binary” below, and find tickets and more information on tonight’s show on the XPN Concert Calendar. Continue reading →

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Tigers Jaw and Foxing to support Manchester Orchestra in October

tigers jaw
Tigers Jaw | photo by Jimmy Fontaine | courtesy of the artist

If you were already super pumped for the Manchester Orchestra show this fall after catching its Free At Noon Concert, then you might want to sit down for this news. Not only will the Atlanta five-piece’s soaring sounds echo through The Fillmore in October, but they’ll be joined by Scranton duo, Tigers Jaw, and St. Louis post-rock outfit, Foxing. Holy emotional angst-fest. Continue reading →

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Free at Noon Flashback: Manchester Orchestra captivates in soaring, momentous volumes

Manchester Orchestra | photo by Emma Silverstone for WXPN

If there’s one thing that Manchester Orchestra showed the packed Free at Noon crowd today, it’s that they have an insane superpower to effortlessly travel through moments of stripped, aching softness to hard-hitting, soaring volumes of power.

Being that it’s been ten years since their debut album, I’m Like I’m a Virgin Losing a Child, Manchester Orchestra’s sound has understandably morphed and grown along with them over time. Playing a few new tracks from their upcoming album, A Black Mile To The Surface, the Atlanta five-piece demonstrated a shift from heavy guitar jam builds to a more atmospheric kind of grandness. Continue reading →

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Folkadelphia Session: Manchester Orchestra


Over four to five albums, Manchester Orchestra, led by Andy Hull, has continued to hone their sound and vision, existing somewhere between indie rock experimentation, arena rock magnitude, and the catharsis-laden chorus chanting of alternative rock. I hate to boil any artistic group’s output into such easy genre boxes, but it does help us as a reference point for the band’s latest two albums Cope and Hope, both released in 2014. I wrote over “four to five albums” because Cope and Hope are essentially two takes at the same set of songs, albeit coming at them from different directions. Cope is a “turn the knob to 11” type deal – anxious verses leading to big payoff choruses, unrelenting power, and lots of muted guitar strumming. Hope amplifies the emotion and moodiness at the cost of overall loudness and force. Hope is the twilight to Cope‘s daylight – dark, transient, and elusive. Hope is not quite a “stripped down” album, an afterthought appendix to Cope; Hope can stand on its own and it certainly showcases the range that Manchester Orchestra is capable of achieving. Listening back-to-back, it’s a real trip to hear what the band was thinking of bringing out to the forefront in the reinterpreted version. It’s great to hear that even at the larger rock-and-roll scale that Manchester Orchestra is at these days, they are still enthusiastic about experimenting with their own sound.
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Tonight’s Concert Picks: Purling Hiss at Arden Gild Hall, Yo La Tengo at The Trocadero, Manchester Orchestra at Temple Performing Arts Center and more…

Purling Hiss
Purling Hiss | photo by Aaron Biscoe

Purling Hiss head down to Delaware’s Arden Gild Hall tonight with Thunderhawk and St James & The Apostles. The local rockers released Weirdon earlier this year, their second effort for Drag City.  Hiss frontman Mike Polizze spoke with The Key last week in the inaugural “Gearadelphia” feature, discussing his live gear set-up, his ambitious dream studio and the times when things go wrong on stage.  Read the full interview here and pick up tickets for tonight’s show here. Continue reading →

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Manchester Orchestra, Balance and Composure and Kevin Devine leave The TLA speechless

Manchester Orchestra | Photo by Allison Newbold | allynewbold.com
Manchester Orchestra | Photo by Allison Newbold | allynewbold.com

Last month Atlanta-based indie rock band Manchester Orchestra released their fourth studio album, Cope, via Favorite Gentlemen, the band’s own independent label. To support their new record, the band has been on an extensive spring tour of the US and Canada with Doylestown’s Balance and Composure as well as Kevin Devine (who’s also in Bad Books, band with Manchester’s frontman Andy Hull).

The tour sold out two nights at the Theater of the Living Arts well in advance, and as soon as the doors opened on night two, the crowd rushed inside and two the front. Devine appeared on stage first, dancing and clapping his hands, getting the crowd pumped to songs such as “Cotton Crush” and “I Could Be With Anyone”. Throughout his set, Devine jumped up, down and across the stage, always rushing back to the microphone to make sure he didn’t miss a lyric. He closed his set with “Brother’s Blood,” performed full band, leaving the crowd in awe.

Next to take the stage was melodic indie-rock band Balance and Composure, on tour in support of their second LP The Things We Think We’re Missing, which was released last year via No Sleep Records. Opening their set with “Quake” off of their first LP, Separation, Balance made a perfect entrance. A majority of the set drew from their newest record including singles “Reflection” and “Tiny Raindrop.”  On stage, the band used fog machines which might have made it difficult to see the band members, but it did enhance their set aesthetically. Closing with two new songs, Balance and Composure played a powerful set championing their latest material.

Manchester Orchestra opening their headlining set with the acoustic track “Deer”, the first song off of their LP, Simple Math, and the crowd was instantly covered with goose bumps. Playing a different set than the night before, the band played an interesting array of songs, including a Bad Books song with Kevin Devine. Promoting their new record, Cope, Manchester Orchestra performed “Top Notch,” as well as album title track, which the crowd enjoyed (based off of the crowd surfing and the mosh pit). The set closed with slower songs “Virgin” and the title track from Simple Math (which they did not play the night before). After their set, the crowd cheering “one more song” for several minutes chanting for an encore that never came – the sound engineer announced after fifteen minutes that the show was over and asked the crowd to leave. Even so, Manchester Orchestra played a tremendous set that left me and the audience speechless.

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Tonight’s Concert Picks: Fresh Cut Orchestra at World Cafe Live, Kishi Bashi at Union Transfer, Kool Keith at Kung Fu Necktie and more…

Fresh Cut Orchestra
Fresh Cut Orchestra | photo via Facebook

Local jazz ensemble Fresh Cut Orchestra perform at World Cafe Live tonight. The ten-piece band is celebrating the release of their debut record From the Vine, out on Ropeadope Records yesterday. LP features nine original songs that show just how tightly these musicians vibe together. They move from contemporary jazz to Latin-influenced arrangemetns and abstract hip hop beats. Listen to “Sanguine” from the record below and pick up tickets for tonight’s all-ages show here.

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The Key Studio Sessions: Caracara

In a previous life, Will Lindsay and George Legatos played electropop for the basement show punk kids in W.C. Lindsay, a group we dug a lot around here at The Key. In a concurrent life, Carlos Pacheco-Perez and Sean Gill are two-thirds of Square Peg Round Hole, the progressive, percussion-driven instrumental ensemble that we also enjoy, whether they’re onstage or in the studio.

This would lead us to reason that we’d be all about Caracara, the new collaborative project of those various musicians. But we were nevertheless surprised how epic their debut record wound up being.
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Support for The Key Studio Sessions, from Dogfish Head