Manchester Orchestra / Cage the Elephant
Thursday, June 9
Two bands might have split the bill, but only one caught the>"/>
Manchester Orchestra / Cage the Elephant Showbox SoDo Thursday, June 9
Thursday, June 9
Two bands might have split the bill, but only one caught the support of a crowd filled to the brim with 16-year-olds and their parents.
Like witnessing the "Surprise!" go to the wrong person at a birthday party, Manchester Orchestra emerged to a sold-out Showbox SoDo that was cheering and singing "Ain't No Rest for the Wicked" . . . by Cage the Elephant. It was all downhill from there.
The Atlanta-based indie rockers--Andy Hull, Robert McDowell, Chris Freeman, Jonathan Corley, and Tim Veny--did their best to win crowd support throughout a set that contained Billboard toppers such as "I've Got Friends" and "Shake It Out," but ultimately the mellow, passive teens killed any vibe the five-piece tried to get going. It was a massive disappointment as the only fan base Manchester had seemed to be contained to the very front and center--and even they were pathetic.
"Thank you, we are Cage the Elephant," said Hull, a joke that was possibly acknowledging the crowd's lack of enthusiasm. The line in itself was awkward, as nobody in the band actually stopped to talk with the crowd until "The Only One," the 10th song in the set.
Hull's dominating vocals--equal parts raw, harsh, sweet, and gentle--and commanding stage presence were the cornerstone of a band that was perhaps too tight and emotional for a crowd that was craving the loose, ADD-antics of singer Matthew Shultz and the rest of Cage the Elephant.
After a standing-ovation-worthy performance of "Simple Math," Manchester's set fizzled out--not for lack of passion or talent, however. Every song during the band's 12-song set radiated the over-the-top, emotional grit they have become synonymous with, but the youth of Seattle had something else in mind. With a solemn "Have a great night," Manchester ended its show without playing an encore, which was probably the first time I've seen a headliner do that in maybe 10 years.
Once Cage the Elephant took the stage, it was evident just how much pent-up emotion everyone at the venue was suppressing. The Kentucky indie rockers, who got their start roughly four years ago at SXSW, went utterly ballistic onstage, with Shultz wasting no time jumping out into the crowd during their second song, "In One Ear."
Prior to last night, I always wondered why Cage the Elephant--Matthew Shultz, Brad Shultz, Lincoln Parish, Daniel Tichenor, and Jared Champion--was labeled as being a part of the garage-rock revival. Comparing them to the frothy dissonance of a band like the Whigs seemed inappropriate. My bad.
If ever there was a man who pulled out his hair whenever he had to be contained in a recording studio, it was Matthew Shultz. To be honest, I'm impressed they were even able to put out a single album, much less two. Shultz spastically flailed about, whipping his body in every direction as he stumbled around the stage singing and screaming like some kind of crazed animal.
The piercing guitar feedback onstage and the dangling mike hanging between Shultz's fingers only helped to boost the feeling that Cage was playing to an intimate crowd at a keg party, not a sold out Showbox SoDo.
"It's good to be back in Seattle," Shultz said. "I feel like this may be one of the greatest music cities the world has ever known."
With nearly indecipherable lyrics, the band played hits such as "Back Against the Wall," "2024," and "Always Something" before it all led to the pinnacle of the evening. During "Ain't No Rest for the Wicked," arguably the band's best song to date, Manchester's own Andy Hull appeared onstage and rocked out with the band. Hull seemed happy, energetic, and just as crazed as Shultz--a major turn-around from only 30 minutes prior.
By the time the show was done, there was no doubt it was all leading to some epic blowout of an encore--the very thing Manchester had stripped from it.
The band walked back to the stage, and Shultz took a moment to look out at the crowd and soak it all in. He slowly clapped. "You guys deserve an applaud," he said. "You guys are awesome."
Matthew Allen Matthew Shultz being held up by the crowd.
The band performed "Shake Me Down," and without a second thought, Shultz did what he does best--he ripped off his shirt and leapt barefoot into the crowd. After a couple of minutes, the bouncers seemed to be trying to pull him back to the stage, but Shultz wasn't having it. He motioned to those beneath him that he wanted to stand, and after a few seconds, the singer was standing vertical in the middle of the masses, held entirely by star-struck kids.
After a crazed scream, he fell backwards and was carried back to the stage. The crowd had gotten exactly what it wanted.
Overheard Onstage: "I bet there's enough sweat in this room to fill a kiddie pool," said Cage the Elephant singer Matthew Shultz.
Overheard in the Crowd: "The lead singer looks like Zach Galifianakis," said a teenage boy in reference to Manchester Orchestra singer Andy Hull.
Biggest Disappointment: Maybe it was being held for an encore, but not hearing "Virgin," Manchester's newest single, was a huge letdown.
Manchester Orchestra Set List:
You, My Pride & Me
Everything to Nothing
Pale Black Eye
I've Got Friends
Shake It Out
I Can Barely Breathe
The Only One
Where Have You Been?
Cage the Elephant Set List (ht to SetList.fm)
In One Ear
Tiny Little Robots
Around My Head
Back Against the Wall
Ain't No Rest for the Wicked
Shake Me Down