Manchester Orchestra

MassConcerts & Bowery Boston presents

Manchester Orchestra

Tigers Jaw, Foxing

Sat, September 30, 2017

7:00 pm


Worcester, MA

$25 advance / $29.50 day of show

This event is all ages

Manchester Orchestra
Manchester Orchestra
Searching for the sonic direction of what would become their fourth full-length album, the hard-hitting COPE, earlier this year; Manchester Orchestra discovered something pretty amazing. The unapologetically heavy anthems seemed to work just as well (or even better) when stripped to their essence. “We were noticing that all the beautiful, slow stuff was working with all the really loud and fast stuff,” said lead vocalist, Andy Hull. “The seed was planted to go back and create a full circle of an album.”

So when Hull went into SiriusXM’s Alt-Nation studios and recorded a stripped-down version of “Top Notch” on the eve of releasing COPE this past April, it was with a measured degree of intent. The quiet presentation and simple arrangement forced the song’s warm lyric and beautiful melody to the fore, which actually made the track itself sound bigger. The fan reaction to the new version of “Top Notch” was powerful and instant (as was the great support from SiriusXM), further reinforcing the band’s desire to reshape these songs in a new and different way. Over the summer of 2014, in the same studio where they originally forged COPE; the band re-imagined the songs with a renewed sense of purpose and fresh perspective. Using Fender Rhodes, piano, vocal re-arrangements and strings, Manchester Orchestra, with an assist from illustrious sound mixer Phil Ek (Built To Spill, Beach House, Fleet Foxes), transformed COPE’s eleven tracks into something completely new and mesmerizing: HOPE.

“We were really proud of the stuff we were recording but Phil did an amazing job on the mixes,” Andy notes. “It was the perfect reverb on my voice – I’d never heard my vocals mixed that way.”

Although the track listing on HOPE is identical to its companion, Andy did shift the lyrics on a few tracks, exploring other aspects of the stories he’d told on COPE, hoping to invest the narratives with a fresh perspective. A string quartet recorded parts for several tracks at Red Bull Studios in Los Angeles and the band used those to create textural elements that build on the ethereal aesthetic of the songs. “Our goal was to be as sensitive as possible about not overcrowding the music, and letting it breathe and aiming for pretty,” Andy says. “We aimed for nasty and guttural stuff on COPE and this was more like, ‘How pretty can this be?’ I’ve always liked both sensibilities. This was an opportunity to see if we could sit down and do it for a whole album.”

Altering the arrangements and shapes of the songs also changed their meanings. Andy’s voice is at the forefront of this collection, particularly on “See It Again,” an a cappella song created with nearly 50 tracks of Andy’s vocals. It was nerve-wracking for the singer to highlight his voice so intensely but it also felt like the right time in the band’s career to focus on creating songs with that as the focus. “The lyrics hold a lot more weight on this version, even the same lyrics,” Andy says. “They’re presented differently so the lyrics hit a little harder. COPE was a guitar record – we wanted a lot and we wanted them loud. This puts an emphasis on my voice and puts it up front. I spent a lot of time making sure my performances were all there in the recording so I could feel confident in the vocal being so present.”

“Top Notch,” the surging, gritty rocker song that open COPE, becomes a surprisingly haunting ballad driven by a quiet piano line on HOPE, setting the tone for the songs that follow. The propulsive electric thump of “Girl Harbor” transforms into a shimmering indie rock number as Andy’s soaring voice pairs with slight acoustic guitar while the dynamic aggression of “The Ocean” is now filled with an evocative longing suddenly revealed in the brooding chorus as the heavy instrumentation falls away. The band removes the fuzzed out layers of sound on “Trees,” leaving only a quiet, emotionally affective melody behind, and pulls down the wall of electric guitars on “Every Stone” to showcase the raw power of its poetic lyricism.

The two albums exist both separately and together. Each is its own listening experience, with its own intent and stories. But placed adjacent, COPE and HOPE create a greater meaning, and reveal a musical and philosophical balance for the band. “This is completed with the two albums together,” Andy says. “The idea in writing COPE was to get the songs to be the best they could be as songs regardless of the style and instrumentation. That paid off when doing it the second time around. You realize that music can be dressed in a lot of different ways and in doing that it tells you something new.”
Tigers Jaw
Tigers Jaw
Between the power pop melodies of early Saves the Day and the hard driving fold rhythms of Fleetwood Mac lies TIGERS JAW, a band who’s raw immediacy is infectious and intoxicating. Shimmering organ textures, chunky guitar chords, and male/female vocal harmonies show the Scranton, PA natives taking rural rock music from its legendary past to its vibrant future. Among the more innovative acts on Run For Cover Record’s star studded roster, TIGERS JAW have a profound musical purity that is as equally stirring in a basement of 40 people as it is in a club of 1,000.
If you’ve ever looked at an old document and noticed brown spots on it, what you are seeing are signs of aging. It’s not exactly clear what specifically causes them, but one day, the page will completely brown over and be no more. This is called foxing.

A group of St. Louis musicians took this idea and turned it into a band. “From the conception of the band, we realized: we’re not gonna be around forever,” says Foxing singer Conor Murphy. “There’s classic literature that over time grows really old. But hopefully, you can make something that meant something at some point and will mean something down the road, even if it is aged and dated. That’s always what keeps me going, the idea that we’re writing something now that we won’t be able to write in ten years.” At only 21, Murphy is wise beyond his years and Foxing’s debut album, The Albatross is indisputable proof of that.

The Albatross has an epically beautiful, almost cinematic quality to it, a fact which the band members, some of whom were film students, are acutely aware of. Listening to their song “Rory” along with the music video they made for it is not only an emotionally jarring experiences but highlights the fact that Foxing have a bigger picture in mind than simply making music. It’s not just a sound, it’s a deeper, fuller concept fueled by a palpable sense of raw honesty and soul- bearing. It’s not just a band, it’s the most vulnerable parts of their lives, reflected back at them.

Coll and Murphy write the lyrics together and cull from their lives and current real-life experiences. They are open and genuine about themselves in their lyrics, almost to a fault, sometimes putting a strain on their relationships with those around them. “The people that those songs are about, there’s no way they wouldn’t know it was about them,” says Coll. “Sometimes, there’s the desire to not put your life so far out there. But it’s also important to not hold back.” The two have a unique process of co-editing each other’s songs. “When we were writing the record, one of the biggest things I’d talk to Conor about was: I don’t care if people like this record or not. I mean, I want people to enjoy it, but the one thing that would gut me would be if people said the lyrics are disingenuous.”

Foxing’s forthright lyrical honesty paired with their stunning orchestral sound quickly started earning them devoted fans, some of whom have been so emotionally moved that they’ve openly wept at the band’s live shows. It’s something Foxing didn’t expect and certainly were not prepared for. “I was really surprised at the reception we got from this record because it’s very, very specific and personal so it’s weird to have people grasp that and feel a kindredness to it, that’s insane to me,” says Coll. In addition to the new fans who were responding to Foxing’s music in such a personal way, the band also caught the attention of Triple Crown Records. The label took notice of the organic buzz surrounding the band and are re-mastering and re-releasing The Albatross.

Although The Albatross has a distinctly timeless quality it about it, Foxing recognize that while they’re proud of the album, it won’t hold up forever. Much like their namesake, the pages their words are written on will eventually brown over and fade away. “The thing that binds everybody together is the idea that death is completely imminent. age is an ever-looming idea that we can all agree on,” notes Murphy. “We make this music, we release it, and then, one day, it dies.”
Venue Information:
261 Main Street
Worcester, MA, 01608