For starters, I have never traveled outside of the state to go to a show. "Wtf?!" is usually the response I get for such a stark and unusual confession, but yes, it was true up until September 29, 2009. When the opportunity to go see Cage the Elephant, Manchester Orchestra, and Silversun Pickups in Johnson City, Tennessee was proposed by two friends, I couldn't wait to give up my "out-of-state-concert" virginity. Just so I won't forget my first time, I'll tell you all about it.
With Five Guys in my belly and the promise of a good night, Jason, Kyle and I headed into Electric Cowboy, a venue tucked into a tiny strip mall next to a shop that sold swords, crossbows, and magic wands...yeah.
If I was innocently driving through Johnson City and saw a sign for Electric Cowboy, my mind would immediately jump to a gay club specializing in Ladies’ Night, $3 Cosmos, and all-American beefcake strippers. While some of those signals may have been subtly exposed (the bouncers had a manscape look about them), the venue played great host.
Cage the Elephant couldn't seem to make up its mind about what genre of music to play that night. Everyone who still listens to radio knows the song "Ain't No Rest for the Wicked," a southern "When the Levee Breaks" knock-off that sounds surprisingly different than the rest of Cage's material. Matt Shultz was howling like a North U.K. punk grunger in one song, and the next second he was channeling his own version of Kurt Cobain from Bowling Green, Kentucky.
All of Shultz's schizophrenic performance, both confusing and entertaining, and a guitar wah that sounded like Anakin's pod racer. Their set didn't do anything for me, and the set was much too long for an opening act. To give in to a pun, the Elephant should stay caged.
I had never payed much attention to Manchester Orchestra material before (I had only heard of the M.O. that produced a noble and bombastic Christmas album that my folks put on repeat during the holiday season). So I could get an idea of what I'd be in for, we listened to Me, Everything, and Nothing to get some 101 on the way up to the show.
Andy Hull, the lyrical mastermind behind most of M.O.'s material, gave listeners a fantastic set. I was surprised when after twenty-minutes of playing, the band layed down their instruments and left the stage. Manchester Orchestra - come back! Most of the set was from Me, Everything, and Nothing, and according to my concert comrades, Hull changed some of the lyrics, giving the songs a unique twist for old and new listeners.
Silversun Pickups is coming up later!