If you don’t like the weather, wait fifteen minutes and it will change. That’s what I was told when I first moved to Ohio 14 years ago. They lied.
It began raining Friday morning and never stopped, enveloping the denizens that made the trek to Spacebar on North High Street in its cold and damp embrace. Due to the nasty weather, spring colds are taking hold on us.
One victim of the dreaded “spring cold” was Jon Chinn, of the band Manager. It seems the heavens conspired to rob him of most of the high-notes of his vocal range, leading to his performing all his songs as a baritone. Yes, this would very well be a major setback for any touring musician.
The Brooklyn-based quartet, comprised of Chinn (vocals/guitar), Ron Hester (guitar/vocals), Lori Cantu (bass) and John Dorcas (drums), carried on with the show. Because… that’s what musicians do when people are putting up their hard-earned scratch at the door to see them.
If you’ve heard their new album, and you should have (it earned a rating of 4.5/5 when we reviewed it in April), you would know that Chinn’s higher vocal range meshes beautifully with the songs, making everything just a little bit better. Friday night, the tunes took on a darker tone.
The Kyle Sowashes opened the four-band bill, rocking the crowd with some “Sowash Classics”, as well as some new tunes. Dayton-based Mansion Family followed with some melodic rock, played to an appreciative audience.
And then, it was time for Manager to hit the stage. Launching into their set with the first single from their eponymous debut, Off to the Races stayed true to the recorded version, with the band showcasing a tight performance. But, Chinn’s bright vocals were missing in action.
Was this a disappointment for those in attendance? Most assuredly, the answer is a resounding “yes.” The baritone sound emanating from his throat gave the first song, and all of those that followed, a melancholy feel. With the weather wreaking havoc on his voice, the bright and happy-go-lucky nature of their sound entered a new dimension.
“I hope no one came to hear me sing tonight,” Chinn said after the final note of their opening number.
Hester’s spacey riffing in key spots of Parades went hand in hand with Chinn’s voice, with Cantu and Dorcas carrying the beat as they took the song on a tangent that was strangely comforting.
They slowed the pace with the more melodic Party Service, with Chinn straining to hit the high notes of the record.
With very little banter between songs, they picked up the tempo with Electrical Camp. A straight-ahead rocker on the album, there were points within the tune that flirted with an almost frenetic pace. Chinn gave it his all, but it still had a melancholy tone.
They slowed the groove with Manager, a song that seemed to be a bit easier for Chinn to sing with his cold-ravaged voice. He carried a quitter tone that was especially poignant as he sang “I just wanna go home…”
You Haven’t the Guts was melodic pop, through-and-through. With the band playing with a tightness in the tempo changes that was a testament to their musical ability, the tune reminded one of something Bob Mould would have performed in the early 90’s.
They slowed the pace, once again, with the new song Rollerball. Hester teased the crowd with some tasty echo-filled riffs, with Cantu’s fingers working up and down the neck of her Rickenbacher. The bass groove, coupled with Dorcas backbeat, made the song sound almost serene.
Keeping with the slower tempo, they regaled the crowd with the rock groove of Welcome Wagon as the penultimate number. Once again, Hester enticed us with some spacey riffs, as the song took on an almost “lounge” feel.
Chinn’s jangly guitar introduced Sounds Like Me, as the band closed out their set. The juxtaposition of the nice, upbeat rock tempo played against Chinn’s deeper voice took the song in an entirely new direction.
With the conclusion of their nine-song set, Bicentennial Bear finished off the night for those that stuck around for the full evening of music with some very nice upbeat rock.
Was the set by Manager a be-all-end-all show? The simple answer is no. But, if you opened your ears to how they played the songs with Chinn’s voice at less than one hundred percent, you would have been rewarded with a new appreciation for the band’s music.
While I thoroughly enjoyed their set, this writer was left with the strong desire of wanting to hear more from the Brooklynites (by way of Ohio). Yes, this is a band that I would strongly recommend that you make a point to see, knowing that Chinn’s voice will return to its normal state.
What Friday night’s show encapsulated for me was a band that took lemons and made lemonade… with a splash of vodka. There was a darker, melancholy spice to the songs that was heretofore unheard. And, I loved it.
Ed. – Read our in-depth interview with the band HERE
- Off to the Races
- Party Service
- Electrical Camp
- You Haven’t the Guts
- Rollerball (new song)
- Welcome Wagon
- Sounds Like Me
Manager – Off to the Races