Manchester Orchestra

Manchester Orchestra

 Andrew Thomas Lee

Atlanta rockers Manchester Orchestra will celebrate the release of their fourth album “Cope,” out Tuesday (April 1) via Loma Vista/Republic, with a twist on a hometown show next Thursday (April 3). The group will take over Atlanta’s Gallery L1 for the latest installment of Tumblr IRL, a music-and-art installation that has enabled bands like Childish Gambino and Broken Bells to bring their new albums to life for their most active fans.

At the event, fans will be able to interact with and visualize their emotions and current moods as inspired by the music on "Cope," which layers hard-crunching guitars over heartfelt lyrics. The band will also perform acoustic, re-worked versions of songs from the new album. "The idea for both the record and the event was how differently the word ‘Cope’ can be interpreted,” Manchester Orchestra frontman Andy Hull tells Billboard. "I would ask my friends and family what they thought that word meant to them, and it was pretty fascinating that I never got the same explanation. So when we were trying to make this thing come to life in an art space, we wanted to focus on how to turn these different meanings into a really cool interactive party with projections and black-and-white lyrics."

Adam Farrell, creative director for Loma Vista, the band's label, admits he "didn't get" the event’s abstract concept when it was initially discussed three months ago "for the longest time. But what [agency] Uprising Creative came up with is a very elegant way of achieving what the band has always done, and associating it with cutting-edge technology."

The events have thus far been a part of participating artists’ album-release weeks, which can help boost both music sales as well as engagement on Tumblr. Though the company, acquired by Yahoo for $1.1 billion in May 2013, doesn’t share specific follower counts for member pages, the company’s music evangelist Nate Auerbach tells Billboard that Broken Bells saw their follower count “more than double” as a direct result of their Tumblr IRL performance at Brooklyn’s Baby’s All right in January. Even more specifically, a December installation for Childish Gambino at Brooklyn’s Rough Trade generated 17,600 posts, 481,700 notes and 259,900 community engagements on Tumblr across a three-week period, according to data shared with Billboard.

"Tumblr IRL is a mix of artists who have relevance to the Tumblr community, a concept that demonstrates something that is unique or pushes limits, and a great album, and Manchester Orchestra checks a lot of those boxes,” Auerbach says. He’s also not wed to the strategy of working with artists who just have new albums to plug. "I’m not opposed to working with artists who have a tour with amazing production who are looking to deconstruct that a little," he adds.

Tumblr IRL will also not just be an event for media hubs like New York and L.A., as evidenced by Manchester Orchestra’s Atlanta locale. “Fans are the best press an artist can get,” Auerbach says, “and this way we don’t have the distractions of the press and music industry people that can come with those cities. They get everything anyway.”

Adds Hull, "At this point it's about in music it’s about developing those fan relationships and doing things that are outside of the box of what people think are ‘normal.'"