Arctic Monkeys and Fontaines D.C. Deliver The Shed Rock Good and Proper

2023’s summer amphitheater season is slowly coming to an end…  However, this past Tuesday, September 5th, The Mann hosted arguably the best shed rock spectacle of the year.  The...

2023’s summer amphitheater season is slowly coming to an end…  However, this past Tuesday, September 5th, The Mann hosted arguably the best shed rock spectacle of the year.  The 14,000-capacity venue was nearly overflowing with fans [mostly female] ranging from teens to people well into parenthood, decked out in leather, fishnets, tattoos, Manic Panic hair dye, and Doc Martens.  There were plenty of classic hard rock fans, people most closely resembling punks, and a bevvy of politely angsty teens and college students, seemingly still deciding on their foremost subcultural hero or heroine.  In skintight black jeans, a leather jacket, and a Lou Reed shirt, I was called a goth by at least one passerby…

The crowd, however, wasn’t gathered for an act that could quite be considered “classic” at this point, and also not something quite as transgressive as the audience’s sartorial choices might imply.  The nearly-sold-out crowd was there for English indie rockers (Yes, they’ve remained signed to legendary indie label Domino for the entirety of their career.) Arctic Monkeys, whose sounds were first categorized amongst the post-punk and garage rock revivals of the mid-aughts, when they first began, but have gone on to be characterized as “guitar pop,” “hard rock,” “psychedelic rock,” and “art rock,” none of which are especially inaccurate (I first became interested when drummer Matt Helders joined Iggy Pop and Josh Homme for Pop’s Post Pop Depression LP and tour.)  The show was opened by Irish outfit Fontaines D.C., who resembled a Brit-Pop tribute to the greatest sounds of post-punk in the best possible way.

After wowing the City of Brotherly Love and Sisterly Affection with two sold-out shows last April, a WXPN Free at Noon and a nighttime gig at Underground Arts, Partisan Records’ Fontaines D.C. took the stage of The Mann shortly after 8pm, to a pavilion that had just gone sufficiently dark.  Looking like the Skins cast members with the undoubtedly coolest record collections, they abraded through an 8-song set, covering their three LPs, with a focus on 2022’s (their most recent) Skinty Fia.  Vocalist Grian Chatten resembled some bizarrely beautiful amalgam of Damon Albarn and Ian Curtis, jerking himself across the front of the stage for the forty-minute set, appearing to be in contention for the greatest frontperson of his generation.  While the first half of the band’s set seemed to primarily engage those with the expensive seats (who did seem quite impressed), by the time they got to 2022 singles like “Jackie Down the Line” and “I Love You” (which closed the set), they were playing to a sea of alt-rock fans already planning to purchase tickets for their next tour of US nightclubs.

Fresh off their third headlining appearance at Glastonbury, Arctic Monkeys’ hour-and-forty-five-minute, career-spanning set proved that they are still more than worthy of that slot, both in songs and in hype.  Led by vocalist and guitarist Alex Turner, certainly the most conventionally “rock star” frontman of the evening, it was apparent why the band emerged as alternative teen heartthrobs and how they managed to cement themselves as contemporary icons of rock.  Although currently touring 2022’s The Car, the majority of the set focused on 2007 sophomore LP Favourite Worst Nightmare and 2013’s AM, which included many of the fan favorites of the evening, like teen angst anthem “Fluorescent Adolescent” and the sexy, stonery blues rock of “Do I Wanna Know?”  The highlight of the set, however, came more than an hour in, appropriately following The Car’s “There’d Better Be a Mirrorball,” when the band churned out “505,” and an actual mirror ball, adorned with “Monkeys,” that fans had been waiting to drop the entire night, finally did…

Live EventsMusicMusic Reviews

During the day Izzy Cihak teaches transgression, subversion, and revolution at Temple University. At night he haunts Philthy's best venues to cover worthwhile acts for Philthy Mag. Morrissey is everything to him and, in their own heads, all of his friends see themselves as Zooey Deschanel.