Manchester Orchestra Boasts New Music At Sold-Out White Oak Music Hall

Andy Hull of Manchester Orchestra
Andy Hull of Manchester Orchestra Photo by Matthew Keever
click to enlarge
Andy Hull of Manchester Orchestra
Photo by Matthew Keever

Manchester Orchestra

White Oak Music Hall
October 6, 2021

Manchester Orchestra has evolved quite a bit since 2009's Mean Everything To Nothing.

After making a name for themselves as indie rockers with a bite, the group transitioned to a softer, more luscious sound on 2017's A Black Mile To The Surface, and they haven't looked back.

On tour in support of their latest release, The Million Masks Of God, the Atlanta-based quartet visited a sold-out White Oak Music Hall on Wednesday night, eschewing many of their hits in favor of their recent output.

Somewhat surprisingly, fans didn't seem to mind.

Usually, when an established act goes on tour, the crowd expects them to play their singles. Manchester Orchestra has plenty, including "I've Got Friends" and "April Fool," never mind the deep cuts like "Where Have You Been" and "I Can Feel A Hot One."

In lieu of these fan favorites, the indie rockers began their set by ripping through the first four tracks from their sixth record, narrating the story of a man who dies and ends up driving around with the Angel of Death, revisiting significant places and people from his life.

Even though the album was released just a few months ago, everyone in attendance seemed to know just about every word. Fans sang along in unison as front man Andy Hull took them all for a tour of the afterlife, occasionally shouting affirmations during the quieter moments.

It wasn't until near the halfway point of the show that Manchester Orchestra played anything from before A Black Mile To The Surface. "Top Notch" from 2013's Cope and "Virgin" from 2011's Simple Math delivered a one-two punch of nostalgia for longtime listeners before the band returned the focus to their two newest records.

The heavy, crunching guitars that helped elevate the group to fame were few and far between on Wednesday night, but looking at the crowd - many of whom likely grew up with the band over the past decade and change - it's safe to assume that we've all evolved a lot since the late 2000s.

Change can be good. In the case of Manchester Orchestra, change can mean rebirth. Judging from fans' passionate reception on Wednesday night, there are plenty of folks willing to go along with Hull and company wherever they decide to go next.

And for anyone who wasn't on board with the group's new sound, "Shake It Out" made the cut. They just had to wait for the encore to hear it.

Angel Of Death
Keel Timing
Bed Head
The Wolf
Top Notch
The Maze
The Gold
The Alien
The Sunshine
The Internet

Shake It Out
The Silence
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Matt is a regular contributor to the Houston Press’ music section. He graduated from the University of Houston with a degree in print journalism and global business. Matt first began writing for the Press as an intern, having accidentally sent his resume to the publication's music editor instead of the news chief. After half a decade of attending concerts and interviewing musicians, he has credited this fortuitous mistake to divine intervention.
Contact: Matthew Keever