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Review: CD102.5 Holiday Show Side B

Matt Ellis Matt Ellis Review: CD102.5 Holiday Show Side BAll photos by Matt Ellis.
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It’s Chriiiiiiiiiiistmas! (again), and after the high tempo and fun-packed evening we were given from Side A on Friday, the CD102.5 Holiday Show Side B on Sunday evening had a lot to live up to, and it did, sort of, but mostly thanks to a blindingly brilliant closing set from Manchester Orchestra.

Opening the evening were local band Souther. Unfortunately, their earlier than normal set time prevented me from photographing, but I did manage to catch the end of their well-received set that helped justify the bands growing reputation as one of Columbus’ best rock bands.

Folk singer-guitarist Shannen Moser calmed the Christmas mood a bit with a fairly low key set with her honest lyrics and country plucking. It was all perfectly pleasant, but not really something I’d want from a Holiday show.

Folk-punk cult stars The Front Bottoms kicked things back up a notch with their unique brand of heart-on-sleeve observational storytelling lyrics and acoustic-led college punk-pop that’s now rightfully exploded into mainstream alt-rock radio.

Opening with fan favorites “West Virginia” and “Skeleton” the two piece, a collection of touring members and the random coming and going of people hitting the onstage bar filled their joint headline set with picks pulled from all their previous releases. The die-hard masses of mostly young, adoring fans yelled along with every word from frontman Brian Sella.

The hour long set proved to be highly enjoyable, despite the nagging feeling that the Front Bottoms are a little lost with their current status. Newer cuts “Tie Dye Dragon,” “Somebody Else,” and everything off of Going Grey felt far removed from older classics “The Beers,” “Maps,” and the predictable yet still brilliant set closer, “Twin Size Mattress.”

Manchester Orchestra, by comparison, appear to be on the top of their game. After years and years of continued growth and albums that hinted at greatness, the Atlanta four-piece have never looked or sounded better and are, in my opinion, currently up there with the best live bands on the planet.

The band littered their set with cuts from their superb 2017 album A Black Mile to the Surface, opening with “The Maze” and “The Moth” before launching into a blitzing version of “Shake it Out.”

Fan favorite “Simple Math” washed over the packed out Express Live! while a solitary pick from the divisive Cope album, Cope, gave the band a few minutes to let off a little steam.

As a self-imposed rule, I don’t usually stick around for encores, but when the encore contains the superb “I Know How to Speak” and one of the best singles of 2017 in “The Gold,” it would’ve been almost criminal to leave as the band ended the evening in style, and showcased why their hints at a new album should leave any music fan excited for what’s to come.

Happy Christmas.

Matt Ellis is a freelance photographer who covers bands that visit the city and the Columbus Crew MLS team. More about Matt can be found at Matt Ellis Photography.

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