Where were Junior Astronomers?
Since its inaugural event in 2010, The Stuffing, a concert put on by the Favorite Gentlemen community of artists the night before Thanksgiving, has been an extremely successful event. It’s an ambitious concert, taking over the Center Stage complex in downtown Atlanta, bands play from 5 until midnight on three separate stages. It sold out in 2010 and 2011, and 2012 was no exception, featuring the strongest lineup yet.
In addition to Favorite Gentlemen bands Manchester Orchestra, Bad Books, O’Brother, Kevin Devine, Gobotron, All Get Out, Death on Two Wheels, and Harrison Hudson, this years lineup included friends Cage the Elephant and an acoustic performance from Grouplove.
The night kicked off with a Bad Books set that started promptly at 5:15. We arrived at 5 and the line was wrapped around the building. People seemed to be getting in quickly, except me. Although I had an email confirming I had a photo/media pass, my name wasn’t on a list. Sooooo I waited and missed all of Bad Books set except about 30 seconds of the last song. Thanks to Harrison Hudson for having an extra pass in his pocket. And thank you for giving it to me. You’re a life saver.
Harrison Hudson– Hudson performed as a two piece with drummer Shaun Rawlings laying down the groove. Twice I overheard people in the audience say they enjoyed Hudson’s music more than they expected. Their latest album American Thunder is an easy listen, rebuilding melodies and chord progressions made famous nearly 50 years ago by greats like Buddy Holly and Roy Orbison. Shaun and Harrison look the part too, like they drove from Nashville to Atlanta in their DeLorean.
Death on Two Wheels– I wasn’t aware that DO2W played shows before 9 PM, but I guess they made a special exception for The Stuffing. Frontman Trae Vedder is a rock n roll guy in every sense of the word. Snarling voice, intensity, full of emotional energy, the only thing he’s missing is the ego. Ahhh I’m kidding he’s got the ego too. This performance served as a warm up for their tour with Gasoline Heart that rolls through Columbia December 6. Their new album is set to come out in Spring.
Gobotron– Although Gobotron is one the SceneSC groups favorite bands on the FG roster, it’s rare that we get to see them perform live. Gobortron is Manchester Orchestra guitarist Robert McDowell’s side project. The short set, which featured Kevin Devine on guitar and backing vocals, was filled with poppy goodness. Gobotron is similar to early Ben Kweller, and the chunky power chords of Blue Album era Weezer.
All Get Out– Is it still weird for you to see All Get Out without Mike and Mel on stage playing bass and guitar? For a lot of people it is, but it only takes a live show or two to get over it. Death on Two Wheels members, Daniel Gleason and J Betts do a seemly job filling the void. All Get Out powered through their set with songs from their latest album The Season, before closing with a new tune. It’s heavier than anything off The Season, with an intense chorus that features vocalist Nathan Hussey singing at full voice. La Dispute and Balance and Composure must have rubbed off on him.
Kevin Devine– This was close to the best set of the night for its straight forward intensity. While the Cage The Elephant and Manchester performances seemed to be bigger than life, Devine walked out with a classical guitar and the spot light on him. The room was filled and familiar and he took advantage, multiple times backing away from the mic and singing along with the crowd. He commanded attention of the room with songs like “Brother’s Blood” and “Ballgame”.
Grouplove– I’ve been looking forward to seeing Grouplove for about a year now, and although it was a quick acoustic set, it didn’t disappoint. Most people recognize them for their song “Tongue Tied” which was featured in an Apple commercial this year. Their entire debut album is a good listen, and at this performance they saved some of the best tracks for last. It was a nice division from the other bands that performed, more upbeat fun and poppy than Kevin’s set and nice stage setter for Cage. The singer could have easily been mistaken for Kurt Cobain. His usually brown hair turned blonde, no knees in his bleached jeans and baggy shirt.
O’Brother– O’Brother was the band that had the unfortunate time slot that coincided with Cage the Elephant. The Loft was less than half full, but the couple of hundred fans that stayed packed in to the front and were clearly there for O’Brother. Since touring most of 2011 and 2012 they’ve become tighter, louder, and more intense even though I never thought that was possible. Slow drones turn into heavy hammers, and more traditional rock songs like “Lo” bring the crowd back to a steady bang, vs the slow bang in other songs. Either way your neck hurts the next day.
Cage the Elephant– Only got to see the last song. It was wild, the stage was filled with Grouplove members and backstage friends, the singer was in the crowd, standing on their outstretched hands. They saved their hits for last, and the crowd went bananas. I wasn’t able to find a reliable origin of the term “go bananas”. There are a couple of different theories on the origin of that term. I think that’s bananas.
Manchester Orchestra– Everyone seemed to be setting the stage for Manchester Orchestra and their nearly two hour set that ran the gamut of their catalog. Might have been my favorite MO show and set of all time. The first set ran about an hour, with an encore that included “I Can Feel a Hot One” solo performance from singer Andy Hull, along with the bring-everyone-on-stage for “Where Have You Been?”. The encore had a feeling like it was the last show of a tour. Most likely from the anticipation that had been building from a sold out home town show, filled with your friends bands. It has to be gratifying for the Manchester Orchestra crew to watch what they’ve built from scratch sell out every year. They created the community and they do a good job of staying in touch with it, and their roots.