The Stuffing Festival – Manchester Orchestra and Friends

Atlanta, GA // November 24

Favorite Gentlemen Recordings put on a sold-out show that featured the majority of their roster, along with Death on Two Wheels and Dead Confederate, at Center Stage Atlanta Music Complex, aka Center Stage Theater, The Loft and Vinyl. At the brand new festival, Andy Hull of Manchester Orchestra gave praise, saying “I love having eleven of my favorite bands on the same bill.”

Gobotron, the energetic Manchester Orchestra side project and brainchild of the band’s guitarist, Robert McDowell, began The Loft’s lineup. McDowell performed Gobotron’s fun, pop music with Kevin Devine and all of Manchester Orchestra, except Hull. One song included a Rolling Stones riff from either Honky Tonk Women or Jumping Jack Flash, to which Robert commented, “I can’t remember my own songs,” even though one lyric said, “I wrote this song.”

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Kevin Devine headlined the set in Vinyl, packing it full. The singer/songwriter’s solo, acoustic performance thrilled his devoted fans, who sang along with every word, except on a new song or two. Near the beginning of the set, Hull joined Devine for a duet.

Bad Books provided the opportunity for Devine and Manchester Orchestra to merge in The Loft for what they said was “our sixth show ever.” The combo rocked the house, but took time out for a rap song about being wasted that sounded a lot like the Beastie Boys.  Devine sang the title lyric of “Every Rose Has Its Thorn” and Andy laughed. Bad Books also created harmonies harking back to Simon and Garfunkel during passages with more country elements.
Dead Confederate packed Center Stage Theater during its dark yet inspiring performance. The Athens-based band took advantage of the great sound system, presenting slow, moody songs filled with slide guitar and vocal reverb that built to satisfying climaxes, sounding more like the band’s recordings and less like the usual guitar-heavy palette when performing with lesser sound resources.
Manchester Orchestra filled in any space left in the audience. Hull came out solo to begin the show with “Sleeper 1972.” The band joined in slowly on “I Can Barely Breathe,” brought up the volume, then quieted down again. These dynamics continued throughout the set, especially on the Christian-rooted “Now That You’re Home.” Not everything was serious, though. McDowell asked the audience to clap for one song, but Hull said, “We don’t like that. He does that just to aggravate me.”

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