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Live review: Manchester Orchestra, Sleeper Agent, Twilight Sleep unite to please [Updated]

June 3, 2011 |  4:47 pm

ManchesterOrchestra
There is a humility to good rock 'n' roll -- a sense that its practitioners are unaware of their power over an audience. Such was the feeling at the Music Box at Henry Fonda Theater on Thursday night, when Manchester Orchestra played past an enthusiastic encore and into a spastic strobe-lighted sing-along set.

The Atlanta-based indie rock band may pay homage to Manchester-bred greats including Joy Division, the Smiths and New Order, but the sweaty-T-shirt-clad five-piece owes more to the newfangled rhythms and syncopation of great post-punk bands including Modest Mouse, Built to Spill and Arcade Fire.

"I can't explain how much you mean to all of us," guitarist and singer-songwriter Andy Hull said to the sold-out crowd, as 11 p.m. breathed a boozy veil over the night's proceedings. "I haven't said it, so give me a chance to say it. I've been in a band playing since I was 17 ... so it means a whole lot to us that so many of you give a ... about what we do."

Then Hull -- his maroon shirt soaked crimson with sweat -- leapt into a crushing show closure that left the crowd sure of why it came.

L.A.-based Twilight Sleep and Bowling Green, Kentucky-based Sleeper Agent opened, with the former delivering a dark, groove-laden set. (Full disclosure: This writer has a long-standing friendship with the Twilight Sleep team.) The latter, Sleeper Agent, teased with riffs resembling a Strokes-inspired experiment in female-led, drum-driven extravagance.

When the night ended and fans filed out the open doors onto Hollywood Boulevard, a young woman said, "That was a slow burn. All night. A slow burn."

And those present for the warming heat will be all the better for it in the thin morning light.

-- Jessica Gelt

Updated 12:21 p.m., June 5: A previous version of this post said that Sleeper Agent was from Brooklyn. They are from Bowling Green, Kentucky.

Photo: Manchester Orchestra. Credit: Ryan Russell

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