On September 29, 2017, I had the pleasure of going to see Manchester Orchestra with Foxing and Tiger Jaws at Terminal 5 in New York City. To start, Terminal 5 is such an amazing venue—I’ve yet to attend a bad concert there. However, be warned: if you’re seeing a band with any form of upbeat music, or even a single upbeat song, this venue has a tendency for crazy mosh pits. I may or may not have gotten caught up in one, but that’s a story for another time.
The first band to take the stage was Foxing, who completely blew me away. They are classified as a mix of indie rock, post-rock, math-rock, and emo-rock, creating a unique sound by the mixing of different genres. The St. Louis band played a sampling of songs from their two currently released albums. Their latest album, Dealer, released in 2015, was described by Pitchfork Reviews an “artistic triumph and compositionally complex,” taking on topics like sex, religion, and current wars.
The lead singer, Josh Coll, displayed not only an incredible vocal range, but also a varied vocal dynamic. He constantly changed intonation between emotional belts and soft head-voice sound that captured the audience’s attention. Coll’s voice wasn’t the only great thing about this band—though being relatively unknown, their stage presence mirrored that of a band who’s been on the road for years. Despite playing generally complex pieces, all of the musicians (apart from the drummer, of course) were dancing around stage and having a great time. You could immediately tell how passionate they were for their music, which pulled in the crowd even more. What stood out most to me personally was when Coll whipped out a trumpet mid-song and started improvising on the spot. He did this for a few songs during their set, and the audience went wild every time. Overall, Foxing was a great band that I’d definitely go see again. They’re playing on December 8th in Brooklyn—you may catch me there!
Having played them on my radio show, I knew going into Tigers Jaw that they’d give a solid performance. The band formed in 2006 and is classified as Emo/indie rock/pop punk that hails from Scranton, Pennsylvania. They played a mix of songs from their last few albums, and also gave the audience a taste of a future album that remained unnamed. For a “pop punk” band, Tigers Jaw had a surprisingly soft vibe that was easy to listen to. It seemed more like an indie rock band with punk male vocals. While they may have lacked stage presence, what made them stand out were the two main singers: Ben Walsh and Brianna Collins created seamless harmonies that were even more pronounced during the live versions than the recorded CDs. The song, “June,” off their newest album “Spin,” was so catchy at the concert that it was stuck in my head for days afterwards. Unfortunately, they’re currently only touring in South America, but definitely keep an eye out for Tiger’s Jaw!
Though the openers were far better than I expected them to be, their sets were both pretty long and I was more than ready for what I came to Terminal 5 for: Manchester Orchestra. Though this was my first Manchester Orchestra concert, I was there with a MO veteran who’s been to about ten of them since the band’s formation in 2004. Hailing from Atlanta, Georgia, the indie rock band is composed of singer-songwriter-guitarist Andy Hull, lead guitarist Robert McDowell, bassist Andy Prince, and drummer Tim Very. Let’s take note here that Very came out wearing a Bob Ross t-shirt—it was needless to say that I was already impressed before the music began. I also loved that Hull took his time to interact with the audience, both cracking jokes at us and cursing us off simultaneously—a hilarious combination.
As for the actual music, they played the majority of their newest album, “A Black Mile to the Surface.” Given that members of the band have changed quite a bit over the years, the style of music has changed as well. Previous albums, though solid works of art, contained straightforward musical structure and loud, semi-generic guitar rifts (before you slit my throat, I’m not the only person to think this—Google it my friends). “A Black Mile to the Surface,” on the other hand, had an amazing mix of heavy, yet melodic, soothing instrumentals and vocals. Andy Hull’s voice was like butter, seamlessly going from screams to whispers through the duration of the set. The music composition itself was extremely complex, containing a constant dialogue of vocal harmonies, both heavy and soft guitar, finger picking, and piano tracks. The live performance made this complex composition shine, as it was even more audible live than the studio version.
What struck me about Manchester Orchestra’s performance was how in tune all the band-mates were with each other. Many of their songs contain numerous crescendos followed by brief pauses and acapella moments, requiring all the band-mates not only to have a lot of practice, but a telepathic-like connection between each other. This level of accuracy is typically only heard in studio-recorded albums, where musicians nowadays have the opportunity to fix every mistake with technology. Some bands are okay live, but I’d like to make the argument that Manchester Orchestra is ten times better live than in studio. Given that they’re already amazing in studio, I highly recommend seeing them in concert. You simply get lost in the music, and I cannot wait to go see them again. They have one more concert in the US, and then are touring the world. Definitely keep an eye out!
If you loved Dasha’s take on Manchester Orchestra at Terminal 5, catch her and Ally’s show, Modern Day Woodstock, on Monday nights from 10pm-12am, where they play all things classic rock, indie, and alternative!