Manchester Orchestra/The Front Bottoms Preview

Author: Owen Bacskai

On Wednesday, December 5th, the stage at The Sylvee will be the backdrop for what will undoubtedly be a high-energy, genre-bending night of music, as a tour co-headlined by Manchester Orchestra and The Front Bottoms lands in Madison.

The critically-acclaimed Atlanta indie outfit Manchester Orchestra is only a year off of the release of their fifth studio album A Black Mile to the Surface, which marks another series of developments in the band’s already dynamic sound. Though they were reared in the mid 2000s under the wing of heavier groups like Brand New, Manchester Orchestra’s diverse musical identity has invoked a wide range of allusions and comparisons, ranging from Conor Oberst and My Morning Jacket to Smashing Pumpkins, Pearl Jam, and other staples of the emotional, melodic rock of the nineties. Surface, which was promoted as a more intimate, reflective batch of songs from frontman Andy Hull, frames his sharp-edged lyricism with a powerful blend of emotive emo, hooky indie and roaring, fuzzy grunge music—all of which translates into a soaring live show.

Taking up the co-headliner mantle for the tour are The Front Bottoms, a rousing New Jersey band that shot to prominence in the indie and emo scenes off of the success of their self-titled and Talon of the Hawk albums. For these earlier records, The Front Bottoms endured as a duo, with singer/guitarist Brian Sella and drummer Mathew Uychich cranking out hooks and verses that sound as natural through earbuds and car stereos as they do being belted out by a chorus of rowdy clubgoers. Though the band’s sound has changed through recent albums (the duo expanded to a full six-piece, and the group’s most recent single, “End of Summer (now I know),” showed a shift towards a more poppy, indie rock style), The Front Bottoms remain an energizing, upbeat force, inhabiting a compelling space between indie, punk and emo.

With both bands being known for their sonic and passionate concerts, Wednesday night’s show at the Sylvee will undoubtedly be a must-see for fans of anything from indie to grunge, or for anyone looking for a high-octane concert to break up the work week.