The Daily Gamecock

Manchester Orchestra to headline Vacationland tour

Brian Almond / The Daily Gamecock
Brian Almond / The Daily Gamecock

Indie-rockers to perform on campus Thursday

Starting out with no name recognition and no money, Atlanta-based indie rockers Manchester Orchestra used to play shows in Columbia about 20 times a year.

From church basements to the New Brookland Tavern, the band, which is about to embark on an international tour, played everywhere they could in the capital city.

“It was all about the Southeast at that point. We didn’t have a lot of money,” said Chris Freeman, the band’s keyboardist. “We played in Columbia pretty much all the time. There are many horror stories, but many good times have been had.”

Manchester Orchestra returned to Columbia to headline St. Pat’s in Five Points this month, and are headlining the Sperry Top-Sider Vacationland College Tour, a four-stop run kicking off at USC on Thursday.

Freeman said it’s “a treat” to play at atypical venues like college campuses.

“It’s outside your comfort zone of playing in a theater,” Freeman said. “It’s cool to play where rock shouldn’t be happening. There’s almost less pressure; you’re just having fun, and it feels good.”

The band is set to release their fourth full-length album, “Cope,” on April 1, which Freeman said goes back to the band’s roots.

“The response we’ve gotten from people we’ve played the record for has been great,” Freeman said. “They’ve all said it sounds like Manchester (Orchestra). It sounds like live, guitar-driven rock.”

Manchester Orchestra’s trademark sound is characterized by gritty guitars and fast drums with high, melodic vocals from lead singer Andy Hull floating over the heavy instrumentals. The band’s last full-length release, 2011’s “Simple Math,” was a departure from that sound. The concept album featured a string ensemble on many tracks and, at time, ventures toward mellow. “Cope” is “live, guitar-driven rock” with “loud guitars and fast drums,” Freeman said.

USC students will be able to get a taste of “Cope” at Thursday’s concert. Manchester Orchestra’s set list will feature a sample of songs off their forthcoming release, as well as fan favorites.

“We try and have a good mix of every record,” Freeman said. “We know people want to hear the old stuff, and we like to introduce something new. We like to strike a balance between standout songs and songs that flow well together.”

One of Freeman’s favorite things about being on the road is sampling signature dishes from each city the band stops in.

“You get to eat the gamut. You have Chicago pizza … getting a Philly cheesesteak in Philadelphia is a thing you have to do,” Freeman said. “It’s not that healthy, but it’s fun.”

Freeman and his bandmates are looking forward to their upcoming tour, which will span seven months and three countries. But before traveling much of the Western Hemisphere, Manchester Orchestra will play in Columbia one more time.

“We’re excited to come back out and get on the road,” Freeman said. “We want to put on a good show. If we don’t, sorry. But that’s the plan.”


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