The Stuffing 2011: A Retrospective + Photos

Favorite Gentlemen is the big brother I never had. You know, constantly encouraging, but has you in the headlock, pushing you to be your best always, but with an elbow stuck firmly in your side, offering every bit of help that’s humanly possible, all the while giving you noogies and making fun of you and your silly little friends. That is, we’re all here for one another, there’s someone there to pick you up if your down, there’s someone there to give you a swift kick and tell you that you’re simply capable of being better. It’s a support system that drives each band member and each band to bring their best every step of the way, it’s very encouraging and very enlightening, and it’s all for the better of each band as a whole.” – Trae Vedder – Death On Two Wheels

The Stuffing 2011

The sense of community Trae described in our most recent interview with him and his band is something that’s been apparent to me since my first interaction with the Favorite Gentlemen crowd. It was sometime in 2005 or 2006 when I went to see Manchester Orchestra play a hometown show. I showed up a bit early for one reason or another and wound up chatting with the guys in Manchester, O’Brother and Harrison Hudson. They we’re all this particular show supporting the recent success of their older brothers..

Favorite Gentlemen Records’ 2nd annual showcase, The Stuffing, was not different in the least. teamed up with our friends Dynes Media to record a documentary about the label and showcase that’s due out early next year so we showed up early in the day to get things set up. By the time we got there, Dan Gleason had nearly dislocated his arm from all the high-five’s he’d been giving. It was like Madea’s Family Reunion, only.. different.

You can read about our encounters with the Favorite Gentlemen community at their first showcase last year HERE, but we promise this year was better. If you we’re there, you know this and if you weren’t, you will soon.

The entire Center Stage complex was buzzing when we got their around 3:00pm. The next few hours were spent filming interviews and transition footage for the documentary, all the while catching up with old friends. There was already a decent crowd anxiously waiting out the windy afternoon to claim their spots at the front of the venue or pick up merchandise before things sold out. By the time doors opened at 5:00pm, the crowd wrapped around the venue and down 14th Street. A sea of people rushed inside and quickly filled up the Vinyl where the label’s newest band, Junior Astronomers, was set start the night off. Others filed upstairs to browse merch and socialize with the bands that were getting set up still.

Junior Astronomers immediately jumped into their twenty minute set and made the most of the limited time. They’ve made quite the stir in Atlanta with their previous shows (O’Brother’s EP Release, shows with Baby Baby and more) and had the crowd shouting back the lyrics of favorites like “Settle Down” and “Bad Bones”. From the first time I saw them, the only way I’ve been able to describe their live show is as “a mix between Taking Back Sunday and Circa Survive, except nothing like those bands”. Watch out for these guys. Good things have been coming out of North Carolina as of lately. You can hear “Settle Down” for FREE on Compilation Volume Three.

Schools took the stage at Vinyl next, while Big Jesus got set upstairs. I’m going to be very honest and let you know that I didn’t get to see Schools. There were far too many good bands playing in one night for me to see everyone and sacrifices had to be made. Schools, I’m sorry, but I had more than one person tell me how foolish I was for missing your set. Big Jesus may have been the loudest and heaviest hitting band I’ve seen all year. Made up of CJ Ridings (Irreversible), Spencer Ussery (Irreversible/O’Brother’s first singer..), Johnny Dang (O’Brother), Joshua Hunter and Evan Diprima, these guys are a true force to be reckoned with. They have shirts with Holy Cat’s on them. They play in C standard. I want them to tour with Torche and Mastadon. You can also hear them on Compilation Volume Three.

I was able to catch only one of A: The Color‘s songs before I headed back to the Loft to catch the “Southern Rock and Roll, made possible by the grace of God” that is Death On Two Wheels. Don’t get me wrong, A:The Color is a fantastic young band that joined the label earlier this year but DOTW’s show is always a riot. Familiarize yourself with Trae Vedder’s voice because it’s something that you will never forget. After working through a few tracks, they invited (much to my surprise.. and the crowd’s) Kevin Devine onstage to perform an impressive version of Kevin’s song “Brother’s Blood”. Personally, this was one of my favorite moments of the night, mainly because it was the absolute last thing I was expecting from them (and therefore, should have been obvious).

I spent the next hour working my way between Harrison Hudson, All Get Out, and a combined set from Gobotron and Right Away, Great Captain. Even as it was a blur of an hour with running back and forth and saying hello to friends, it was a wonderful time and I finally settled down at All Get Out to watch them play through one of the better (and quickest) set’s I’ve seen in a while from them.

The Favorite Gentlemen community eventually gathered in almost entirety at the Loft at 8:00pm to watch O’Brother take the stage. The band has been one of the most talked about artists affiliated with Favorite Gentlemen and their latest record Beneath Your Garden Window has received acclaim from dozens of blogs and magazines. If you’re acquainted with their music then it makes perfect sense why everyone from Brand New to mewithoutYou to Thrice has taken them on tour this year.

Following their set, the night’s only solo act took the stage at the Loft. Despite that he was going up against Cage The Elephant‘s co-headlining slot in Center Stage, there was a full and completely attentive room waiting for Kevin Devine. After playing through tracks like “Another Bag of Bones”, “Cotton Crush” and “Ball Game”, he invited out his friend and fellow artist Jaymay (vocals on Murphy’s Song, Brother’s Blood) and backed her as she sang through the most sincere and simple song I heard all night, “You Are The Only One I Love” from her record Autumn Fallin’.

It was downstairs to catch a bit of Cage The Elephant’s set before heading over to Vinyl to get ready for the night’s after party. It was my first time seeing the Kentucky-based rockers (it’s always been a surprise to me when any good modern music comes from Kentucky.. I don’t know why) and they definitely pulled their own. The crowd was eager to see Manchester but attentive and feeding off of singer Matthew Shultz’s energy. The band played through tracks from their eponymous debut and their most recent effort Thank You, Happy Birthday.

The moment everyone had been waiting for could not come soon enough. Center State was full to the brim and alive with excitement. Manchester took the stage to a sold out house and went straight into track after track from their most recent records, occasionally giving long-time fans a glimpse of the past with tracks from their 2006 debut I’m Like A Virgin Losing A Child. It was the most refreshing set from the band that I’ve seen in years. They each seemed truly happy and honored to be on stage in their home town in front of such responsive and enthused audience.

Just as quickly as the crowd filed out of Center Stage, they made their way back into the Vinyl for the after party that + Mixtape Atlanta put on. DJ set’s from Trevor Dowdy (High School Sweetheart) and Jake Turner (Say Anything) had everyone on their feet until the party wound down around 2:30am. Brandon Funk & Joy Sharp set up an incredible photo screen with props that was the biggest hit of the night, you can check out the photos here if you haven’t yet. The Majestic Photobooth Company was in the building as well to keep everyone entertained. You missed most of the fun if you decided to drive home after Manchester’s set and I would encourage you to decide otherwise next year. It’s only Thanksgiving, Mom won’t mind if you’re a bit hungover.

All in all, it was another successful year for the Favorite Gentlemen family. Every single person that walked out the door left with a smile on their face, except for Daniel Gleason. Much thanks to Jeremiah, Brandon Mize, Crystal Stewart, Brandon and Joy, Alec and Bobby, the entire Favorite Gentlemen crew, Johanne and Samantha, and everyone else involved with putting on these festivities. We’ll see you next year.

– Sean Pritchard
– Photo By: Brandon Funk & Joy Sharp