Shake It Records knows what’s up.
On Sunday, Nov. 30, the Cincinnati-based record store hosted a live acoustic in-store session featuring Manchester Orchestra frontman Andy Hull with his good friend and tour buddy, singer-songwriter Kevin Devine.
The in-store was a low-key teaser for fans who couldn’t wait to see the two artists play later that night with their full bands at Southgate House. Scheduled to begin at 3 p.m., the two bearded performers kept the 60-odd fans standing in the aisles of Shake It for an hour until they casually strolled through the front door.
One of these fans was Ohio State senior Derek Harmon, who didn’t mind waiting.
“I was very impressed with the in-store,” he said. “Although Andy and Kevin were late, they didn’t warm up their voice or guitar. They still played flawlessly.”
Harmon later added, “The in-store was much more personable (than the Southgate show). It made me feel like a friend of mine was playing a show.”
The intimate setting inside Shake It during the session became so quiet that at one point fans could hear the few shoppers flipping through jewel cases at the front of the store.
Devine played first, beginning with a slowed-down version of “You’ll Only End Up Joining Them” similar to the version on his 2007 Tour EP.
“At least [me and Andy] got to see some back roads,” Devine said afterward, blaming traffic and rainy weather for their late arrival.
Devine’s second song was somewhat of a mystery, a new track on his upcoming album. Next, at one fan’s request, Devine played “Splitting Up Christmas” from Make The Clocks Move. Devine’s fourth song was the politically charged fan favorite, “Another Bag Of Bones,” on his recently released 7″ of the same name.
Always bursting with emotion, Devine stepped away from the mic to scream the chorus. He ended his set with the poppy “I Could Be With Anyone,” the title track on his brand new I Could Be With Anyone EP, which he sold after the show for $5.
Fans of Devine and Hull know the two’s tendency to play together, backing each other up on guitar and vocals. Unfortunately, at the in-store, they kept their songs to themselves. After quickly cranking out five songs, Devine modestly made way for the day’s featured performer.
Hull, who dwarfs Devine, appeared grizzled, as if he just stepped off an Alaskan ice-fishing boat.
“Here’s a song I was thinking about today,” Hull said as he began.
He played three songs before addressing the audience again.
What fans didn’t know at the time was that Hull’s first three songs employed mainly improvised lyrics. In his first song Hull humorously sang about not understanding an instrumental Band of Horses track he listened to earlier that day. His third song talked about getting high in a backyard. Regardless of topic, on Sunday, Hull looked and sounded much like David Bazan (a.k.a. Pedro the Lion).
“Seeing Andy make up three songs on the spot was a rare experience, since he may not ever play or release those songs again,” said Ohio University senior Kyle Oltman, who also attended.
Ever prolific (and forgetful), Hull later admitted, “I have so many songs it’s retarded,” apologizing for forgetting the lyrics to one of his own fan-requested songs.
Hull’s fourth song, “Eventually Home” – written for his concept album, The Eventually Home, the new record from his side project, Right Away, Great Captain! – told the story of a 17th century sailor who, after 3 years, returns home to his wife whom he caught sleeping with his brother the night before setting sail.
His next song, also from his side project, discussed similar themes of suffering.
Maintaining the session’s lighthearted mood, Hull admitted, “The song’s about a super love loss, that emo kinda bulls— … But I made it folky, so it’s trendy.”
Donned in a basic oversized blue sweatshirt and a plain gray beanie, Hull appeared comfortable in his attire and attitude.
“I just don’t care if I’m cool anymore,” he told fans. “I’m just gonna keep making music and keep thanking you guys for listening.”
Hull ended the session with one of Manchester’s better-known songs, “Where Have You Been?”
“The emotion in (Andy’s singing voice gave me the chills,” Oltman said. “Both singers were loud and clear, which added to the overall experience. My only complaint was the awkward standing area.”
Thanks to Shake It for scheduling the sweet in-store.