Words and Photos by Brandee Nichols

Bad Books, made up of members from Manchester Orchestra and Kevin Devine, played a sold out all ages show at World Cafe Live last Thursday night. Opening the show were The Front Bottoms, an acoustic punk band from New Jersey, and Weatherbox, a rock band from San Diego.

I learned my lesson from the last sold out all ages Bad Books show at North Star Bar; get there early! There are few things worse than being the jerk at a concert who uses their photo pass as an excuse to push through all of the people who got there before you did. I really wish World Cafe would make an actual photo pit…

This Bad Books tour follows the release of their second album, IIAs I’ve said before, this album feels like more of a collaboration than their first self-titled release, which had songs that sounded like Manchester Orchestra (MO) and songs that sounded like Kevin Devine. Pro tip: stream Bad Books’ entire album on their website.

Maybe I’m still a little bitter that MO didn’t play “Where Have You Been” at their last concert, but I was a little disappointed that they didn’t play any MO songs like the last tour. I guess Bad Books had plenty of songs to choose from this time. They did a good job of playing songs from both albums, because we all hate when a band tours after an album and only plays songs from their new release. Well done, Bad Books.

My favorite part about seeing this band live is the stupid yet hilarious banter between band members. Andy Hull and Kevin Devine were tossing the jokes back and forth throughout the set, with Chris Freeman simply smiling and shaking his head in an I-can’t-believe-I-have-to-put-up-with-these-guys kind of way.

A highlight from the set was when Hull and Devine announced a new song, being the first real collaborative effort for the pair, then proceeded to play a partial cover of “Let Her Cry” by Hootie and the Blowfish. Hilarious.

I’m not a huge fan of encores, as I’d rather the band just end the set on a high note. Where’s the fun in them if they’re always expected? This wasn’t an issue for Bad Books, as they have their own take on encores.

“They only reason we take a break is because we all had to go to the bathroom, but now we’re back,” Hull explained.

Not only did their set consist of a good mix of old and new, but they also did an excellent job of mixing in the slower songs, often with just Hull and Devine singing on stage by themselves. The closing song, “Pytor,” actually left me with chills.

Bad Books’ Setlist:

  1. After Party
  2. No Reward
  3. Please Move
  4. Holding Down the Laughter
  5. How This All Ends
  6. You Wouldn’t Have to Ask
  7. Forest Whitaker
  8. “New Song”
  9. No Sides
  10. Friendly Advice
  11. Mesa, AZ
  12. 42
  13. Ambivalent Peaks
  14. It Never Stops
  15. Baby Shoes
  16. You’re a Mirror I Cannot Avoid
  17. Pytor

Bad Books

I was surprised by how many people seemed to be there to just see The Front Bottoms, as I had never heard of them. I think that these guys had something to do with the younger than expected crowd. I felt incredibly left out as everyone around me was singing along to the lyrics of songs about steroids, swimming pools, and a twin-sized mattress.

The Front Bottoms

Weatherbox opened the whole show, and seemed like a better match musically than The Front Bottoms. While they weren’t bad, the only thing I remember about them was how long it took the lead singer to take off his winter jacket.