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Monday, June 8, 2009

Summerfest 2009: Manchester Orchestra gives us a tremendous finish

Thirty minutes before Atlanta band Manchester Orchestra took the stage, a sea of people began to form in anticipation of the band's entrance. Excitement filled the air as the hundreds of eager fans converged beside the stage. Being still relatively new to the music scene, this was my first experience with an audience this size, and the sheer amount of energy running through the crowd, even in the overwhelming Atlanta heat, amazed me. To enhance the excitement even more, a local radio station pronounced the Virginia Highlands "the place to be for music today" just as the band was setting up.

Finally, it was time for Manchester Orchestra to begin. Following an announcement from the woman who organized the festival, cheering filled the park. Then the band jumped straight into their set. Their sound was a unique take on alternative, indie rock with unexpectedly soft vocals and quite a variety of instrumental sounds. Although I'd been listening to some of their songs online for quite a while, this is another band that truly must be heard live to be experienced as it should be. Hearing them at Summerfest was a feast for the eardrums!

Up near the front of the stage, I was surrounded by people singing along to every word of their songs, from their massive hits to their lesser-known tunes. The joy that encompassed the park was tangible. A few boys in their late teens right in front of me were so enthusiastic about the band that they grabbed each other in excitement whenever the lead singer would announce the title of the next song to be performed, and one of them even began tearing at his hair, much like those teenage girls who were fans of the Beatles back in the day. Several guys had their eyes closed, feeling the music as well, and one girl beside me was screaming the words to the songs passionately. Honestly, watching these fans was nearly as entertaining as watching the band itself. It's always nice to see people with this much enthusiasm.

As the hour and a half set came to an end, the eager crowd, thirsting for more musical nourishment, called for an encore. Unfortunately, due to sound ordinances, the band was unable to comply. However, there was a gleeful sort of feeling that pervaded the park as everyone began to clear out. Indeed, all three of the bands made for quite an amazing show!

Also, this whole experience has gotten me so incredibly excited for Athfest. I can't wait!

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