Dustin Kensrue and Andy Hull || The Sinclair || 4.26
Opener Tanner Merritt of O’brother put it perfectly when he said, “Welcome to Sad Bastards Anonymous.” He was referring to two giants in the world of sad-guy alternative rock, Andy Hull and Dustin Kensrue, who played at The Sinclair on Sunday 4/26.
Tanner Merritt opened with both O’brother songs, and some solo tunes he had written. But the main show started for most of the audience when Andy Hull (of Manchester Orchestra) took the stage and said “Good evening. I’m Chris Martin from the band Coldplay,” and then tore into an acoustic version of Manchester classic “Wolves at Night,” similar to the one found on Let My Pride Be What’s Left Behind. The Chris Martin jokes didn’t stop (“I know what you’re thinking, ‘Wow, Coldplay doesn’t suck anymore’”), and neither did the great songs. Playing from his entire catalog of material ranging from Manchester Orchestra, Right Away, Great Captain!, Bad Books, and an Andy Hull solo song about Barry Bonds being on steroids, Andy covered most of his career. He did this in his distinct style of aggressive-yet-quiet singing and finger-picking method of guitar playing, much to the audience’s delight.
In the middle of his set, he played four Right Away, Great Captain! songs, including “What A Pity.” Andy talked about how that song was used in an episode of Grey’s Anatomy, in which a short guy wanted leg extensions. Midway through the song he shouted out, “This is where the operation happens; it’s an 85-second song and they used it in like most of the episode!” For a man with such sad songs about loss, and being cheated on and going off to sea, Andy was incredibly funny and personable throughout the show. He remarked about himself briefly, “I’m not sure sometimes if I’m supposed to be playing songs up here, or I’m a stand-up comedian.” Who says they need to be mutually exclusive, Andy?
The highlight of Andy’s set was “Colly Strings” from I’m Like A Virgin Losing A Child, with the chorus of “The River” from Mean Everything to Nothing. The closing tracks “After the Scripture” (used in Dallas Buyers Club), and a song he wrote for his wife called “Married.”
Dustin Kensrue of Thrice was the main headliner of the show, having just released a new album titled Carry the Fire. He opened with “Pistol” and followed it with a Thrice tune, “A Song for Milly Michaelson.” Dustin basically bounced between his new record and his first solo album Please Come Home, with tracks like “Consider the Ravens” and “I Knew You Before.” But the new material fit well with the old. Dustin said before playing the new song “What Beautiful Things” that he wasn’t happy with how he played it at the show the night before. It sounded fine to the audience, but immediately after he finished the song he took out his iPhone and said to Siri, “Set alert at 3PM tomorrow to practice ‘What Beautiful Things’” as everyone laughed.
Dustin played two cover songs, about as different from one another that songs could be. He first played Lorde’s “Buzzcut Season” which actually worked incredibly well with his gravely deep voice and acoustic guitar. Finally, for his encore, he played Tom Waits’ “Down There By The Train,” claiming that Waits was one of “his favorite humans.” The powerful cover closed out a truly memorable meeting of Sad Bastards Anonymous.