By Michael Gerber
Dead Confederate make unhappy music, but that's not necessarily a bad thing. On Sat., Dec. 20 at Variety Playhouse, the band presented its cathartic world of guitars banging away in dark corners. Right away the Nirvana comparisons the group have drawn with their latest CD, Wrecking Ball, were obvious. A clattering of moody and frustrated noise conjured up vivid memories of the grunge era. Dead Confederate have mastered the art of losing themselves in messy and hopeless dark rock. Its a combination that has a unique power to take over the senses.
The headliners of the night were Manchester Orchestra. Right away, it was the cleanliness of their sound that stood out, which was a drastic contrast to Dead Confederate. These were nice guys who opened with a joke (a tongue in cheek ode to 50 Cent) and went on to play youthful anthems primed for popular embrace.
Vocalist, guitar player and frontman Andy Hulls bearded and flannel-clad exterior resembles a young Patterson Hood of the Drive-By Truckers, but there wasnt too much Southern about this rock. Instead, they played something that had more of a suburban feel to it, with songs that felt dreamed up in an Alpharetta bedroom, shared for the first time with friends in a basement, and finally fleshed out as independence replaced high school and parents. Im guessing. This is all based on the little that I know of where theyre from, their ages and the undeniable emo hand stirring their songs.
Hull reminisced about seeing Death Cab for Cutie at Variety Playhouse, and pointed to the exact spot where he was stood during their show and apparently, shit [his] pants. So it was something special to see the crowd singing along to his lyrics when he did the same thing with Ben Gibbard only a few years ago. Their set played like a triumphant homecoming: inspired, grateful, and it only got better as the night went on. Both bands demonstrated why theyve become critical darlings over the last year. If this is the future of Southern rock it, the future has a lot in common with alternative rock from the '90s.
(Photo by Shana Langfur)
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