Manchester Orchestra
Showbox, Seattle, WA

Andy Hull is in a mood. And despite the over-sold-out crowd packed into The Showbox, singing along to every word of Manchester Orchestra‘s set, the one random guy screaming nonsensical garbage at Hull is cramping his style.

Four songs in, Hull pauses, notes that, “Normally I try to fit in a joke here but I’m not really feeling it right now. So more songs. How’s that? Cool.” No one in the crowd is going to argue.

Touring in support of their fifth full-length, this summer’s A Black Mile to the Surface, Manchester Orchestra know how to bring the Myspace kids out from behind their devices and into the light. The strobing, saturated, rainbow-colored light, drenched in a sea of fog, that is.

They kick off their live set, mid-tour, with the three opening tracks off the new album, “The Maze,” “The Gold,” and “The Moth” before weaving into a set that spans the rest of their catalog. It’s classic MO, though, as tracks that feel exceptionally personal at barely a whisper smash brutally against sprawling grunge guitars and general existential angst.

There are anthemic, arena-rock-sized tracks, sure, but if nothing else, Manchester Orchestra is emo to the max, and this is what their dedicated fans came out for. They want to feel like they are understood. Like Hull is there putting words to their breakups, their dread, their heartache, their joy. They pump their fists as they scream along.

Sure, there’s notable excitement before hits like “I’ve Got Friends” and the sweeping light of “The Alien” that then swoops into “The Sunshine.” But it’s the end of the set that sends a gut-punch reeling through the crowd as they close it out with “The River.” A two-song encore ends the night, including a rare occurrence of “The Silence,” and the crowd is ALL CAPS INTO IT before the house lights come up. And just like that, the therapy session is over.

Review and photos by Stephanie Dore

Manchester Orchestra