The Front Bottoms had a sensational 2017 in the UK playing 2000 Trees Festival, touring the country’s arenas with Blink-182, as you do, and just missing out on a top 40 slot with latest album Going Grey. Now the New Jersey emo/indie/folk rockers can add an incredible UK headline tour to their list of achievements and a packed out night at London’s Roundhouse.
When the opening band are currently unsigned, known for a DIY production and are playing in the UK for the first time a certain level of timidity can be expected – then there’s Brick + Mortar.
During their first song they had the whole crowd crouch to the floor primed for launching into the air with an ease that not even Slipknot can claim. What followed was a bizarre but wholly entertaining set featuring nipple tassles, huge blue hands and video projections of women earnestly struggling to break eggs. Fantastic is the exact word.
The Smith Street Band had the unenviable task of following the circus that is Brick + Mortar but they managed it wonderfully.
The Melbourne locals proudly announced that tonight was their 67th show with The Front Bottoms and it’s easy to see why. The two share a completely endearing style of creating music about heavier topics in the most fun way possible.
The Front Bottoms launched their set with You Used to Say (Holy Fuck) which is as much fun for a crowd to sing as the name suggests.
And therein lies the key to The Front Bottoms brilliance. Their lyrics are exceptional and every song seems to have a stand out line that is catchy but incredibly thoughtful – repeatedly capturing the anxious human experience.
Live this is even more sensational. The Front Bottoms have a fan base that have clearly connected to those lyrics and sing them with full force at every opportunity.
The set was adhoc in places with requests from the crowd being granted at the slight despair of the sound techs, but it only highlighted the incredible relationship that The Front Bottoms have created with their fans.
That and the fact that vocalist Brian Sella went out of his way to dedicate songs to the fans he had met in various high-street pubs and restaurants in London earlier that day.
With those crowd wishes permitted the set-list left little wanting. But with seven tracks played from their latest album, older material has begun to disappear from The Front Bottoms set.
For a band that have been together for about 12 years, this is hardly surprising and necessary to keep the shows fresh. That being said, old school fans missed Peach and Father a lot.
On the surface The Front Bottoms are a three-piece but in order to deliver their interesting and somewhat eccentric sound touring members have been enlisted, bulking their count to six.
It’s always exciting to see bongos, violins, tambourines and trumpets wheeled out to the stage during set up. The more far fetched instruments definitely add a unique touch that you don’t find at every show.
But touring members often bring a disadvantage of lacking a performance enthusiasm on stage that can only be compensated for by the OG members and The Front Bottoms only almost stepped up to that plate.
However, that’s their style. They have adopted and honed a very laid back normalcy that ultimately is their very appeal.
Their gorgeous and artistic staging more than made up for theatrics. The enlarged and uncensored version of 2017’s Going Grey album artwork donned the back of the stage.
An impressive drum riser (home to two kits) and two projector screens, which showed beautiful images and videography to match the tracks, completed a flawless set up.
Artistic integrity and a relatable nature is what makes The Front Bottoms so easy to connect with and tonight was a real showcase of what they have spent more than a decade building with their fans.
THE FRONT BOTTOMS WILL PLAY THE BBC RADIO ONE STAGE AT READING AND LEEDS FESTIVAL 2018.
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