Kevin Devine is a great songwriter and a great live performer, but his shows often consist of less-than desirable setlists. Despite this, I decided to head to Hoboken and catch this stop of the Manchester Orchestra headlining tour. Unfortunately, the show ran too late for me to stay for Manchester Orchestra, a really good band that I was disappointed to miss.
South Carolina’s All Get Out started the evening in front of about fifteen kids, none of whom appeared to have any idea who the quartet was or what to expect. The band has a knack for writing interesting material, but the final product is extremely rough around the edges. A few of the songs were remarkably impressive, but I unfortunately didn’t catch any song names. With the right producer and a more focused effort, this band could release a great album. They show no lack of emotion live and played pretty well for a band that I believe is on their first tour out of the south.
Dead Confederate, hailing from Georgia, followed. A five-piece that blends southern rock into Nirvana and Sonic Youth (the latter of which they covered this evening for the penultimate song in their set), the band spent much of their time jamming in the middle of their songs–or so it seemed, I’m not familiar with the band on disc. A recent trend in bands that find themselves on tours with bands like Brand New, Kevin Devine, and Manchester Orchestra, these “jams” are rarely as interesting as they are self-indulgent. Dead Confederate is another band suffering from this; their songs are technically sound and enjoyable until the band trails off into excessive feedback and uninteresting improvisation. Still, it’s hard not to wonder what is possible with a little focus in their songwriting; they are certainly capable musicians.
At about 9:15 Kevin Devine and the Godamned Band took the stage, opening with “Carnival”. With a full band behind him, Kevin’s sound is certainly more dynamic than when he is solo, but I’m not sure it’s better. His backing section is certainly fun and talented; on “I Could Be with Anyone” (from the new tour EP of the same name) keyboardist Brian Bonz beatboxed the opening rhythm in a humorous yet surprisingly flawless manner.
“No Time Flat” was updated to reflect more recent political events, while “Cotton Crush” featured–of course–a jam on the outro. With the holiday season in effect, “Splitting Up Christmas” (a personal favorite) would have been a poignant addition to the setlist, but that unfortunately didn’t materialize. “Another Bag of Bones” reads like a cross between REM (think “It’s the End of the World as We Know It (And I Feel Fine)”) and Bob Dylan and comes off excellent live.
Kevin’s setlist normally struggles, and this evening was no exception. Two mediocre older cuts (“Longer That I’m Out Here”, “Me and My Friends”) and four songs not on any full-length comprised of two-thirds of the nine-song set:
Another Bag of Bones
I Could Be with Anyone
No Time Flat
Me and My Friends
Longer That I’m Out Here
My Brother’s Blood
Though I had to leave before Manchester Orchestra performed, I heard later that they played a set consisting of mostly new material from their upcoming full-length with a few cuts from their debut LP tossed in. This tour wasn’t the first, nor do I suspect it to be the last, involving both Kevin Devine and Manchester Orchestra on the same bill, so I’m sure I’ll get another chance to catch the Mississippi act soon, as both artists have albums due out in early 2009.