Thursday, August 28, 2014

Music SPACE showcases innovative local musicians downtown.

This Friday, a pair of local singer-songwriters, Jasmine Tate and Michael Cali, perform at SPACE Gallery downtown, as part of an ongoing music series entitled Music SPACE.

The idea for the series, which aims to showcase "some of the best and most interesting musical talent in the Pittsburgh area," came about when Amy Staggs, curatorial assistant at Wood Street Galleries, and Murray Horne, head curator, decided to expand their infrequent concerts at SPACE into a regular happening.

Amy, who previously booked shows at Club Cafe, reached out to the City Paper's music editor, Andy Mulkerin, for guidance on which local bands might best fit the gallery's aesthetic.

"We saw an opportunity to grow the mission of SPACE ('to realize a working example of an integrated and open art ecosystem in Pittsburgh') by planting a local music seed in the soil of the gallery," says Staggs. "We have several gallery attendants who play in bands and attend a lot of shows, and their energy around integrating live local music in SPACE has been contagious and eye-opening."

The first installment, in May, featured local indie rockers Wreck Loose alongside electronica artist Troxum. "It was two very different bands," says Mulkerin, "but that's sort of what makes it interesting and makes it work."

The second installment of the series, in July, saw ambient dream pop trio Sleep Experiments paired with experimental "melting pop" group The Van Allen Belt.

"We're trying to put together a couple acts that are different enough that they're bringing in different people, but we want it to make sense," says Mulkerin.

While attendees might expect something similar to VIA, Pittsburgh's annual art and music mash-up festival, both Staggs and Mulkerin deny a direct influence. 

"What Lauren, Quinn, and crew have done is fantastic," says Staggs. "While I can’t say that VIA was a specific influence in starting Music SPACE, we both have the mission of engaging and advocating for local music acts."

"It's not like when you have a band at an art opening, and the band is sort of a secondary thing," says Mulkerin. "This is a music event first and foremost."

Mulkerin also points out the novelty of having local bands perform downtown, "where there isn't a whole lot of live music besides jazz that happens."

"It's a chill thing. It's inexpensive. It's not some huge show that's gonna take 4 hours. It's a nice thing at an in-between time on a Friday night, maybe after you've gotten dinner and a drink downtown."

You can listen to a track by Tate on the City Paper's website. They describe her as having a "R&B/Soul vibe...with some acoustic material mixed in."

Upcoming performances include YXU and Ennui, on September 26, and Brooke Annibale with special guest on October 24. Admission costs just $5. SPACE is located at 812 Liberty Ave, downtown. Doors at 8, Music at 8:30.

-- B. Conway

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Bleachers at Mr. Smalls - August 30, 2014 - Preview and Ticket Giveaway

Jack Antonoff of Bleachers
The band called fun. has yet to follow up their 2012 breakthrough, Some Nights, and how can you blame them? Topping such an unprecedented level of commercial success must be a daunting task for any band, especially when it came so unexpectedly. Nevertheless, they’ve kept busy in the interim, with Nate Ruess popping up in many high-profile features, and guitarist Jack Antonoff even started a new band. On Saturday, he’s bringing that project to Mr. Smalls.

Bleachers released their debut LP Strange Desire back in July, and it’s mostly as bubblegummy and accessible as Some Nights. Hell, lead single “I Wanna Get Better” reads like a close cousin to “It Gets Better” from fun.’s latest record. Despite the similarities between these related pop-alternative projects, Antonoff has stressed in interviews that Strange Desire was constructed in a far different fashion, since he was alone for a majority of the songwriting process.

Pittsburgh Music Report is hosting a giveaway for their Mr. Smalls show. To enter for a chance to win, simply email your name to with “Bleachers” in the subject line. A winner will be announced Friday morning. 

Tickets for the show are available via Ticketweb. $25. 

-- Shawn Cooke

Monday, August 25, 2014

Chancellor Warhol at the Andy Warhol Museum - Concert Review and Photos - August 23, 2014

Chancellor Warhol at the Andy Warhol Museum, 8/23/14. All photos (c) PMR.
Chancellor Warhol, Nashville MC and namesake of Andy Warhol, performed at the artist's museum Saturday with some artistry of his own.

It was a short, rapid fire set, barely 40 minutes long. Chance performed without a hype man but rather a drummer/keyboardist. He opened with "Collapse," the lead track from his new album, Paris is Burning. "Otherside," a song Chance wrote the day after he opened for Kendrick Lamar, was spit out nearly twice as fast as on the album.

Maybe it's best there was no hype man, because Chance would have left him in his wake. Running up and down the aisles, Chance, outfitted in torn jeans, stylish t-shirt, and leather ball cap, sang directly to the fans, slowing down only to thank everyone for coming out.

"Where my dreamers at? This one goes out to all the artists, all the creatives."

Like Andy, Chance stocks his repertoire from the heady stream of pop culture. His songs namecheck the likes of Marlon Brando and Jackie O – both the subject of famous Warhol portraits – as well designer labels, artists, and musicians of all stripes: The Black Keys, van Gogh, Dior, Jay-Z. Musically, he rapped over M83 and quoted Rick Ross in the span of a few minutes.

One rapper I didn't hear mentioned, but seems an obvious parallel, is Kanye West. Yeezy is the (self-proclaimed) standard bearer for that certain haute couture, rapper-as-artist persona. Both artists have a smooth delivery and a tendency to draw out the vowels on certain words. Kanye had "Niggaz in Paris," Chance's new album is called Paris is Burning.

Thankfully, Chance can do Kanye without all the Kanye. There's a genuineness to Chance. He appreciates art and high fashion – he went to school for design, after all - so his lyrics aren't just price-tag braggadocio. Like Andy before him, Chancellor Warhol takes pop culture minutia and elevates it into something profound.

He ended his set "The Kennedy's," a memorable track that ends with Chance shouting the proclamation "keep a black girl in that White House" again and again. Before the track he urged those in the crowd to look him up on Twitter. "I invite you to follow my journey if you find it fits yours."

Here are a few photos from the performance: 

-- B. Conway

Monday, August 18, 2014

United Nations at the Smiling Moose - Concert Review - August 14, 2014

"Trees cause more pollution than automobiles do."


As Geoff Rickly grows up with his fanbase, his Warped Tour fatigue becomes more and more apparent. In many ways, United Nations is a reactionary project to his prolific run with Thursday. He’s described it as an outlet to release aggression, but in many ways, it’s a more relaxed project than we’re used to. Powered by Rickly’s bracing screamo-black metal vocals and propulsive blast beats, United Nations sounds as urgent and dead-serious as Deafheaven (Rickly refers to the band as his “little brothers”, since Kerry McCoy has cited him as a formative influence), but from a lyrical standpoint, his tongue is planted firmly in cheek.

On Thursday night at The Smiling Moose, Rickly displayed that fatigue right from the start, asking fans to “come closer, squeeze on up here. There won’t be any moshing or stage dives tonight.” The band’s second LP, The Next Four Years, would suggest a frenzy of a live environment, but Rickly wanted to keep things a little more tame – much like Michael Gira did in Pittsburgh a month earlier.

The band mostly stuck to The Next Four Years, but seemed just as committed to their “banned” self-titled debut. Although “Serious Business” is anything but, Rickly also provided amusing contexts to the older songs like “Model UN” and “Resolution 9,” which he gave a hilarious farcical backstory about the evils of The Beatles and their “British Invasion”. It not only matched up nicely with the “Yellow Submarine” refrain at the end of “Revolution 9”, but also the Fab Four-inspired tees on sale at the merch table.

Much like Rickly’s “little brothers”, United Nations blend genres in a refreshing enough way to make for an engaging live show. Their brand of not-quite hardcore, not-quite screamo, not-quite punk wholeheartedly favors intensity over conforming to any one category. Rickly noted that the addition of David Haik and Zac Sewell of Pianos Become the Teeth to the touring lineup has been a big one, and he couldn’t be more accurate. Haik keeps frantic time on the drums, and the rest of the band follows in lockstep.

But at its core, United Nations is Rickly’s showcase as a frontman. He wields the mic with a similar earnestness and controlled energy as Perfect Pussy’s Meredith Graves. On “Meanwhile on Main Street”, Rickly suddenly shifted back and forth between a spoken, through-the-megaphone cadence and his wall-shaking screams. Though a United Nations song might feature more overtly political and humorous lyrics than a Perfect Pussy song, both bandleaders exert the sensation of total commitment in a live setting.

-- Shawn Cooke

Friday, August 15, 2014

The Machine at the Rex Theater - Interview and Ticket Giveaway - August 22, 2014

The Machine
Pink Floyd tribute act The Machine play the Rex Theater Friday, August 22, at 8pm.

I've seen The Machine twice now. The first time was at Mr. Smalls. I had bought tickets for a buddy of mine's birthday. We were both into Floyd - what 20-something suburbanite male isn't? - and barring the next Live Eight taking place in Pittsburgh, I figured this was as close as we'd get to seeing them live. What I didn't realize was just how close it would be. We were both blown away by their musicianship and how much they sounded like the Floyd.

A few months later, we saw them again, at Heinz Hall. The Machine was performing Dark Side of the Moon in its entirety with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra. This being the pre-Lyft days, we took a Classy Cab down, so that we could effectively psych ourselves up to hear "On the Run" with full orchestral backing.

It's a testament to the effort they put into their craft that an esteemed organization like the PSO would share billing with a tribute band. Little did I know that this sort of thing is the norm for The Machine. They've performed with the Atlanta Symphony, the San Diego Symphony, and the Detroit Symphony. They've toured all over the Americas and Europe. And did we mention how The Machine sounds exactly like Pink Floyd? That's literally what Spin said: “The Machine sounds exactly like Pink Floyd.”

2014 marks 25 years for The Machine. We had a chance to talk with Tahrah Cohen, the band's drummer, in anticipation of their upcoming show in Pittsburgh:

Pittsburgh Music Report: First of all, congratulations on 25 years. Have you been doing anything special on this tour to mark the anniversary?

Tahrah Cohen: Thank you very much. we've been making sure to keep a very varied performance, making sure to represent many of the albums. 

PMR: At what age did you realize that Pink Floyd was more than just another rock band?

TC: I've always been connected to their complete presentation. Visually, they have always been ahead of their time. Their sound palette has always been unique and the content of the music is universal. Life, death, struggle: it's not something you find in many bands.

PMR: Are you able to listen to the band on a recreational basis anymore? Or do you hear "Money" on the radio on your day off and instantly change the station?

TC: Everytime I hear their music I am still blown away. I don't seek them out, but I never avoid it when I do hear it. It always brings me pleasure. 

PMR: Talk a bit about the difficulties you face playing in a tribute band. Do you feel at all like you have to sacrifice your own creativity to stay true to their vision?

TC: Some have to sacrifice their egos. That has never been an issue for me. When you are a mature player you understand and appreciate what you are supposed to do and what you aren't. I have never sacrificed my own creativity. On the contrary, being in this band allows me to be a full time musician. I do many many projects in NYC. I have toured the world with The Machine and other bands. I have played with Lou Reed, Rufus Wainwright, and Boy George. I've played a sold out show at Carnegie Hall. Hardly a sacrifice. 

PMR: You guys get pretty deep into Floyd's back catalog. Are there any of their songs you just won't attempt on onstage, or maybe one you tried once and said "never again?"

TC: There is some material that just does not translate to a live audience. There is some material that doesn't stand the test of being played hundreds, even thousands(!) of times. It's pretty evident when a song makes that list. 

PMR: What do you make of the other Floyd cover bands out there? Is there a friendly rivalry that exists between you all?

TC: I don't pay attention to the other ones very much. From what I've seen online, the other bands are more of a "show," where the individuals don't matter as much. That's fine, it's just not appealing to me. Those shows have a very rigid feel since they are timed specifically to the production. The Machine is a very organic band. Our set lists change every night; we are flexible and raw. That is one of the reasons we have been around for 25 years.

PMR: Lastly, how excited are you for this new Pink Floyd album that's supposedly coming out in a few months?

TC: It's going to stir up lots of excitement for Pink Floyd fans and radio stations. That will put Pink Floyd front and center for a bit. It will make a lot of people happy.

We have a pair of tickets to giveaway for this performance. To enter, simply email your name to, and put "The Machine" in the subject line. We'll announce a winner on Twitter early next week.

Tickets are available via Ticketweb for $20, $25 day of show. 21+. 

-- B. Conway

Friday, August 8, 2014

Fifteen Bands That Are Overdue to Perform in Pittsburgh

Clockwise from top left: Radiohead, Nas, Tame Impala, Deafheaven
2014 has been a bumper year so far for Pittsburgh music fans. Arcade Fire, Jack White, and many other top tier musical acts visited the city for the first time in ages – or, in MIA's case, the first time ever. White-hot performers like Phantogram and St. Vincent each spent an evening in town, despite being at the point in their careers when a stopover in Pittsburgh typically lasts as long it takes to fill up the tour bus with enough gas to get to Philly. And then there were gigs by emerging artists still earning their chops: bands like Reignwolf and Eagulls played spirited, intimate sets to a couple dozen fans who will be with them for life – or at least for their first couple of albums.
So does that mean we are satisfied? Hell no! There are plenty of great bands that are long overdue to visit Pittsburgh. Here are three writers' personal opinions on which bands, both big and small, should – nay, must! – play Pittsburgh as soon as possible:
Brian's picks:

Radiohead hasn't visited Pittsburgh since way back in 1997, when they played Metropol in support of OK Computer. Even if you think that was their best album – a fair argument to make – Thom Yorke and co. have since released Kid A (my personal favorite), Amnesiac (meh), Hail to the Thief... heck, you know the list. Sure they don't tour all that often – their last US dates were in 2012 – and at this point in their career they're not playing anywhere smaller than Consol, but with a new album in the works, 2015 might be our last, best chance to again host one of the greatest bands of this generation.

Plan B: Atoms for Peace: Yorke's Flea-ridden side-project.

Thee Oh Sees are one of the most far-out, prolific psychedelic garage rock bands around. The San Francisco band has been around in a number of forms since the late 90s, always with John Dwyer at the helm. They finally coalesced into their current arrangement somewhere around 2008, and have put out at least one album a year since then, each of which has been very good. (Think Blue Cheer, but with synths, and weirder.) Like any good hallucinogenic trip, each album has peaks and valleys throughout, but mostly peaks. They've yet to play Pittsburgh.

Plan B: Ty Segall, or, The Ty Segall Band.

The Shins played a free show at CMU for the '05 Carnival. What a coup that was! The psychedelic pop band was riding a huge wave of popularity at the time thanks in no small part to the Zach Braff-curated Garden State soundtrack, which was served as entrée to the world of indie rock for thousands of angst-y college teens, myself included. (Don't laugh: Braff won a Grammy for it.) There were not one but two Shins songs on the soundtrack, both of which, surprisingly, were from the band's first album, Oh, Inverted World!, and not the more recent Chutes Too Narrow. They haven't been back since.
Plan B: Broken Bells: Mercer's side-project with Brian "Danger Mouse" Burton.

Warpaint were guests on a podcast with the guys from Sound Opinions recently. Among other things, they talked about how much they've toured over the past couple years. "I think we've toured over 300 shows in two and a half years" Guess which city missed out? Warpaint are four women from LA who manage to give "art rock" a good name. Their 2010 album, The Fool, made critics nationwide take notice. They make dark, sensual music that still manages to be danceable. They would be perfect for either of Pittsburgh's churches-turned-concert venues.

Plan B: Lykke Li

The Cure has been around so long that their first Pittsburgh gig was at the Syria Mosque. The goth-rock pioneers visited again, nearly a decade later, in 1996, this time at the Civic Arena. Are there other bands in their prime that could visit instead? Of course. But did any of those bands pen Disintergration or The Wish? If Paul McCartney has taught us anything, it's that aging rockers can be ageless. The Cure's 2011 live album – an epic 32 songs long – proves that Robert Smith still sounds great, even if, in his late 50s, he looks ridiculous in all that goth makeup. There's talk that the band – which still includes longtime bassist Simon Gallup – plan to release more new material this year, so a return trip might yet happen. Maybe Warpaint can open.
Plan B: Slowdive, who are currently on a reunion tour of their own.

 Julia's picks:

Two Door Cinema Club
The trio from Northern Ireland was the crest on a wave of electropop acts, holding their own against Vampire Weekend and The Naked and Famous when their debut album dropped in 2010. Tourist History was an unabashed dance record, using drum machines and looping synths to create a sound bigger than anything we expected, and their 2012 follow up showcased mature orchestration along the same danceable lines. Of course, Pittsburgh takes more kindly to “real” music, and TDCC always tours with a live drummer. As performers, they encourage audiences to shake it off with addictive beats and their own blooming wallflower confidence.
Plan B: The Mounties, Steve Bays’ best project after Hot Hot Heat.

Daniel Ellsworth and the Great Lakes
Experimenting with several different styles on their debut led this Nashville quartet to a hard-edged indie pop sound on their latest, Kid Tiger, which dropped a week before SXSW. The album “sounds like a rock n’ roll band playing consciously crafted pop songs,” guitarist Timon Lance told me in an interview, and NME characterized it as electropop with the humanity of a folk record. Ellsworth himself is a rare performer, one of the few who looks like he’s having fun rather than basking in the limelight. It’s dancing, headbanging, whiskey drinking music, great for the Smiling Moose or Mr. Small’s.

Plan B: Bad Suns, who recently toured with The 1975.

The sibling band’s high-powered, unpretentious rock is Paramore for big kids. Or rather, music for those of us who recently grew out of our Paramore stage. Echosmith is far from your typical girl-fronted band-- like Hannah Hooper of Grouplove, 17 year old Sydney Sierota bangs around on timphony and synth, giving the band’s 90’s flavors a crashing sound. Though their drummer was born in 1999 (feel old yet?), their appealing rock would fit right in on the soundtracks to 10 Things I Hate About You or The Princess Diaries. Who doesn’t love a little righteous female angst?
Plan B: The Colourist, another great (though maybe not as creative) female-fronted SoCal band.

Jhené Aiko
The hip-hop songstress, who has played love interest on tracks with Drake, Kendrick Lamar, and Big Sean, approaches music in a truly organic manner. Simple bass samples highlight her soprano pipes-- she avoids the inherent innocence of her sound with earthy diction and raw lyrics. Though her voice harkens back to girl groups like 702 and the Fugees, Aiko identifies more with the rap side of the spectrum. Smoking a blunt and going back to bed is poetry on her tongue, and any boy that passes her up will live to regret it. On “Stay Ready” and Drake’s “From Time,” she moves effortlessly between confidence and unabashed desperation. Striking a balance that’s difficult for most-- if not all-- female artists these days, the 26 year old acknowledges that no one has it all figured out-- nor should they.

Plan B: Solange Knowles

One of the most proficient rappers in the history of the game has never visited the Steel City, and he’s currently promoting the 20th anniversary of the classic Illmatic, so a stop isn’t necessarily out of the question. A long time advocate of nonviolence and collaboration between artists and magnates, the Pittsburgh hip hop scene could gather some much-needed cohesion from the rapper’s smooth, euphoric aphorisms. In a city conveniently situated between Nas’ Queens scene and Outkast’s Dirty South, perhaps the lack of national rap performances is a sign we need to shift our weight. And with Talib Kweli’s recent performance, looks like Nas would receive a warm welcome.
Plan B: Jungle, hip hop for the indie kid.

Shawn's picks:

Though Mariah Carey may have claimed the nickname of “Elusive Chanteuse”, it’s hard to imagine a better male counterpart than Destroyer’s Dan Bejar. The band has yet to announce its newest album, Me. I Am Daniel… The Elusive Chanteur, but Merge Records did confirm that they’ll be hitting the road sometime in 2015 for full-band dates. Bejar has stopped in Pittsburgh as part of supergroup The New Pornographers in 2009 and 2010 at CMU and the Diesel Club Lounge respectively, but never with Destroyer. 2011’s Kaputt was a revelation for Bejar, and last year’s Five Spanish Songs proved that his disinterest with the English language isn’t so bad after all.
Plan B: The New Pornographers

The black metal rejects last played Pittsburgh in 2011 at The Smiling Moose, opening for Russian Circles. Three years doesn’t seem like a long time, but Deafheaven aren’t the same band as they were supporting Roads to Judah. They obliterated all genre-distinctions and expectations with 2013’s Sunbather, an instant-classic of a rock album. I saw Deafheaven play the record in its entirety earlier this summer at the Rock and Roll Hotel in Washington D.C., and it was an appropriately overwhelming, physically painful and transcendent experience. George Clarke and Kerry McCoy seem to have found the proper supporting cast to recreate their titanic soundscapes in a live setting, and seem to be having a lot more fun in the process.

Plan B: Tombs, Agalloch

Sun Kil Moon
Mark Kozelek isn’t known for putting on a fun show. Granted, his excellent stage banter can often pass as stand-up comedy, but the songs’ morbid and unapologetically revealing subject matter remains the same. Kozelek performed a solo gig in Pittsburgh at Diesel Club Lounge in 2008, but has yet to bring the full band into town. Sun Kil Moon’s stop at Union Transfer in Philadelphia (and the rest of their tour) this July featured a full-band quartet. Most of the songs, especially from this year’s towering Benji, were centered on Kozelek baring it all on acoustic guitar, with light brushstrokes supporting on drums. But some of the more driving tunes, such as “Richard Ramirez”, “Dogs”, and “Hey You Bastards I’m Still Here”, just demanded that full-band experience, with riff-heavy electric guitars and far less casual drumming.

Plan B: Another Kozelek solo show

Deerhunter came to Pittsburgh a couple times in their early years, including a show at Carnegie Mellon and Garfield Artworks in 2008. But since then, the band has released its best album, Halcyon Digest, and another worthy entry in Monomania. Sure, plenty of bands ignore the Steel City for much longer than six years, but this gap hurts just a little more since they performed twice in both Philadelphia and D.C. last year. Bradford Cox (as Atlas Sound) played a show with Built to Spill as a part of Levi’s “Benefit Braddock” series in 2011. Given the band’s history, it’s expected that Cox and Lockett Pundt will take a year or two off for their respective side projects, but hopefully they’ll remember the ‘Burgh when they release their sixth LP.
Plan B: Atlas Sound, Lotus Plaza

Tame Impala
Tame Impala were everywhere in 2012 and early 2013. Everywhere but Pittsburgh, that is. For a few months, you couldn’t flip on the TV – or walk around Pitt’s campus – without hearing the band’s breakout single, “Elephant”. But since their beginnings in 2007 and the release of their debut in 2010, the Aussie experimental-psychedelic kings have steered clear of Pittsburgh. Their fanbase exploded with Lonerism, so it’s hard to imagine them playing anywhere smaller than Stage AE. It’ll just be a question of whether that third LP propels them to a thundershower-risk on the outdoor stage sometime next year.
Plan B: Foxygen 

About the authors: 

Brian Conway operates Pittsburgh Music Report and writes freelance for the Pittsburgh City Paper

Julia Cook writes freelance for the Pittsburgh City Paper, interns for Paste, and operates South by Steel City.

Shawn Cooke is editor of the Arts and Entertainment section for the Pitt News and writes occasionally for Pittsburgh Music Report.

Did we miss anyone? Let us know in the comments section.

Beck (last vist, 1998)
Vampire Weekend (last visit, 2008)
Phoenix (never visited)

Monday, August 4, 2014

Manchester Orchestra at Mr. Smalls, w/ The Mowgli's and Brick and Mortar - Concert Review and Photos - Mr. Smalls - August 3, 2014

Andy Hull of Manchester Orchestra. All photos (c) PMR
Sunday night was for wearing your heart on your sleeve.

Manchester Orchestra's sold out show at Mr. Smalls opened with Brick and Mortar. They were two guys – one drum/synth player, one bass. I walked in on the bassist/vocalist apologizing for opening up to a room full of strangers, then telling a story about how his dad is this exiled con-man/hustler, and how the only way he'll ever get to play in front of him is if we support the band enough to launch their careers to the point where they're big enough to play overseas. (No pressure, right?) The crowd responded well to the duo's energy, as well as their big, hand-painted sign telling people to yell "Hey!" One song was about "corporations stealing people's rights," and the others were equally earnest.

The Mowgli's followed. I had a hard time with their set simply because I wasn't expecting it. I figured the openers for Manchester Orchestra would be a hard rock band, not a cheerful six-piece pop outfit from sunny SoCal. I suppose that's my fault for not listening to the openers ahead of time. Or maybe I was expecting something more in line with "Mogwai."

In any event, once I got over the initial surprise I was reminded a bit of the Kopecky Family Band, who took up the whole stage at Club Cafe a couple weeks ago. The male and female co-lead singers shared upbeat harmonies on warm, happy songs that make me want to move to California. It would have been nice to have had some horns onstage, like are present in the album version of the band's big hit, "San Francisco." They played only a handful of songs; I think Brick and Mortar may have been onstage longer. Again, it wasn't bad, it just didn't fit at all with the headliner. Someone must have read over all three bands' lyrics sheets and put the bill together without actually listening to any of their albums.

Eventually, after a more than thirty minute wait, Manchester Orchestra took the stage. The band played two huge festivals the two nights prior to the show, so playing Mr. Smalls must have been something of a come down for the group. If it was, they didn't let it show.

Frontman Andy Hull looked and sounded like a more intense Jim James, from My Morning Jacket. The band was loud, but not particularly heavy; the closest the crowd came to moshing was some exuberant hopping. That's when I remembered – I've come to this band late. Their first album was unabashed emo, with songs titled "Don't Let Them See You Cry" and "I Can Feel Your Pain." (I should have known something was up when I saw their roadie wearing a Brand New shirt.) The crowd was young, with an average age somewhere in the early 20s, and most sang along with every song, especially the more stripped down numbers that featured a spotlit Hull. It was, after all, the lyrics that carried the most heft.

Here are some photos from the performances: