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<p class="text-align-right">Manchester Orchestra 11/18/2022 at The Fox Theatre | Dylan Basden Photography</p>
Manchester Orchestra 11/18/2022 at The Fox Theatre | Dylan Basden Photography

Concert Review: Manchester Orchestra's 12th Annual Stuffing

November 18th, 2022 | The Fox Theatre, Atlanta, GA

Manchester Orchestra return home for their annual Thanksgiving festival with music, friends, and a joy that can't be contained.


Manchester Orchestra 11/18/2022 at The Fox Theatre | Dylan Basden Photography

It is always a grand homecoming celebration. Manchester Orchestra, natives of Atlanta, GA (no, not Manchester, UK) return with what may just be their best performance to date. A concert that won't soon be forgotten, from the lineup, the individual sets, and the ultimate finale, it was incredible from start to finish. The band is wrapping up their tour in support of their latest album, The Million Masks Of God, and their latest single "No Rule".


The Fox Theatre 11/18/2022 | Dylan Basden Photography

The Stuffing, now in its twelfth year, has been a staple in the band's touring since its inception in 2010. With the exception of 2020, when the festival was cancelled, it has been performed every year and featured artists ranging from Cage The Elephant, GROUPLOVE, The Front Bottoms, and more. This is the festival's fourth edition at The Fox Theatre, a historic 1929 theatre that features over 4,600 seats and is a staple in Atlanta. This year's lineup included Julien Baker, Lunar Vacation, Joy Oladokun, Petey, and Leah Wellbaum.


Leah Wellbaum 11/18/2022 at The Fox Theatre | Dylan Basden Photography

First up on stage was Leah Wellbaum, the lead singer of Slothrust. Her short set got the crowd eased into the long night ahead of them, and her casualness on stage brought a lot of warmth on such a chilly night. Solo with just her electric guitar, Leah absolutely crushed it, with a cover of "Glycerine" by Bush and her own "Horseshoe Crab" being highlights. 


Petey 11/18/2022 at The Fox Theatre | Dylan Basden Photography

Petey stood as the only act on this lineup I was not already familiar with. One of my favorite parts of The Stuffing is the artist discovery, Manchester Orchestra does a fantastic job at putting on new artists and showcasing their friends' music. Some past acts that come to mind are Brother Bird, Kevin Devine, and Slothrust. Petey immediately jumped out at me. His whacky and off-kilter lyrics paired with an often manic delivery shined, but they also felt highly introspective. His songwriting has that same kind of ultra-specific relatability that you would find in acts like The Front Bottoms. His voice was commonly strained and had a distinct rasp, all furthering this feeling or urgency in his words. For his first time in Atlanta, you couldn't ask for more.


Joy Oladokun 11/18/2022 at The Fox Theatre | Dylan Basden Photography

Joy Oladokun is a name that you need to remember. I first caught them performing at Hangout Music Festival this past May and I knew immediately they were one to keep an eye on. Joy is absolutely infectious, and her name truly is representative of who she is. Their music comes from deeply personal roots, being a first generation American, black, and queer has brought adversary to her life. Despite this, they have also found a lot of peace. Songs about hope and love for one another juxtapose subject matter like discrimination and religious trauma. A magnetic personality, Joy was just a pleasure to hear live, especially in the magnificent acoustics of The Fox Theatre. Her melody of her own song "i see america" and Nirvana's "Smells Like Teen Spirit" was phenomenal and they ended their set with a standing ovation from the crowd.


Lunar Vacation 11/18/2022 at The Fox Theatre | Dylan Basden Photography

Atlanta natives Lunar Vacation hit the stage to much fanfare. The last stop on tour with Petey and Manchester Orchestra, the quintet was eager to make their Fox debut special. Soft, indie rock filled the auditorium as the band swept through their catalog of music. They're a name I've always heard, but have yet to see in a proper show. I see why. They stand out again an often times bland indie landscape, with a lightness and freshness that you don't often see. Their song "Unlucky" was an instant standout, with its casual look at heartbreak, feeling so in-touch and simultaneously distant. They are absolutely a name from Atlanta to keep your eye on.


Julien Baker 11/18/2022 at The Fox Theatre | Dylan Basden Photography

Serving as direct support, Julien Baker hit the stage just ahead of Manchester Orchestra. This was the last stop of Baker's 2022, and the final stop in support of her 2021 album Little Oblivions. Swelling indie rock with moments of absolute blistering power set the stage for a stellar performance. Julien and her band had an incredible presence on stage, running amuck and raging the entire set. They are obviously, and they just as clearly were having a great time.


Julien Baker 11/18/2022 at The Fox Theatre | Dylan Basden Photography

A surprise cover of Pedro The Lion's "Second Best" featuring Andy Hull of Manchester Orchestra was a riveting performance. Julien and Andy pair perfect vocally, and the huge build of the song created a massive payoff that Julien fully capitalized on. Julien Baker's near legendary status among indie-rockers is one with complete merit, and her performance at The Stuffing certainly cemented that for me.


Manchester Orchestra 11/18/2022 at The Fox Theatre | Dylan Basden Photography

The time had finally come for the grand finale. The crowd erupted in cheers for the return of the hometown heroes, and the band emerged from backstage to be greeted by thousands of fans. It is an inspiring moment, seeing all of a band's success thrust onto them the moment they hit the stage to their most loyal and diehard fans. The emotions on each member's face was telling.


Manchester Orchestra 11/18/2022 at The Fox Theatre | Dylan Basden Photography

Explosive. That is the best way to describe how the set began. From the quick swell of "100 Dollars", which featured Julien Baker, into the three song run of "Pride", "Keel Timing", and "Bed Head", the band quickly ripped into the audience with a vigor that is hard to recreate. This set was bound to be special, but what the band delivered to fans feels almost insurmountable. The first part of the show felt pounding, a feeling of audible vibrations that can shake the sturdiest man to their core.


Manchester Orchestra 11/18/2022 at The Fox Theatre | Dylan Basden Photography

The middle of Manchester's set felt more intimate. Yes, the band knows how to shred a guitar and kick drums into your chest, but the songwriting is what drives their fans so rabid. Even on the loudest songs, Manchester Orchestra know how to create intimacy. A favorite from this side of the band was "The Sunshine", a short, but oh-so-sweet song about love. Sonically, the band as never sounded better than the second half of their set. I've seen them six times now, and they've been fantastic every time, but this stretch of music felt unparalleled to a lot of performances I've ever seen.


Manchester Orchestra 11/18/2022 at The Fox Theatre | Dylan Basden Photography

The band's encore felt like a victory lap. Nearly two decades of songwriting, touring, and grit culminated in what can only be described as victorious. Three of their biggest hits from three different chapters in the band's career, "The Gold" from their crossover hit album A Black Mile To The Surface, "Shake It Out" from their major label debut Mean Everything to Nothing, and "Where Have You Been?" off their debut album I'm Like a Virgin Losing a Child, composed the core of the encore. The final song of the night, "Deer", saw Andy Hull and Robert McDowell, the two longest running members and primary songwriters, perform stripped back and intimate. The song ends on a 'thank you' to fans, a touching way to end such a wonderful night.


Manchester Orchestra 11/18/2022 at The Fox Theatre | Dylan Basden Photography

Nineteen songs and three tacked on snippets left the band performing for nearly two hours. It felt perfect, minus the exclusion of "I've Got Friends". The band covered material from across their expansive discography, their full setlist is below. 

         1. 100 Dollars (ft. Julien Baker)
         2. Pride
         3. Keel Timing
         4. Bed Head
         5. I Can Barely Breathe
         6. April Fool
         7. Pensacola
         8. Simple Math
         9. I Can Feel A Hot One -> Cope
         10. Colly Strings
         11. Everything to Nothing
         12. I Know How to Speak -> The Sunshine
         13. Dinosaur
         14. The Silence
         15. No Rule
         16. The Maze -> The Gold
         17. Shake It Out
         18. Where Have You Been?
         19. Deer (stripped)


Manchester Orchestra 11/18/2022 at The Fox Theatre | Dylan Basden Photography

The Stuffing never fails to entertain. It truly feels like an event, it is a monumental show every year, not just for the fans but also the band. It serves as a pilgrimage of Manchester Orchestra fans. This year was no different, and I expect next year's to continue this trend. I highly recommend not only seeing any of the bands on this bill, but also attending a Stuffing at some point. It is an experience you won't soon forget.

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