Speaking generally, a band may consider their career a success if they manage to release one song that is guaranteed to garner a sing-a-long from the crowd. For The Front Bottoms, this is every song. From the opening line of West Virginia to the closing lines of Twin Size Mattress the crowd don’t miss a single beat, singing virtually every word lead vocalist Brian Sella delivers straight back at him.
Since being signed to Fueled by Ramen and releasing their 5th studio album ‘Back on Top’ the boys from New Jersey have been touring relentlessly, bringing their trademark blend of pop punk and indie rock to cities all over the US and UK. However the new LP marked a distinct shift in the band’s sound, showcasing more produced tracks as opposed to the rawer acoustic sound of their previous releases. The fans, of course, are un-phased, as the trademark poetic lyricisms that Sella is known for have not changed.
Despite the change to a major label, the band still aren’t taking things too seriously, and this is clearly evident in the lively stage setup for their current tour. Behind the band are the giant inflatable letters marked ‘TFB’, not too dissimilar in style to the infamous ‘Wacky Waving Inflatable Arm Flailing Tube Men’ (trust me, just google it). Accompanying this is a bubble machine that periodically spurts out masses of bubbles that float around the venue, because why the hell not? Half way through the show there is even a giant toy Minion (of the Despicable Me franchise) that is thrown on stage by a fan and consequently wielded by Sella as a mascot for his madness. ‘You want it back?’ he asks the crowd, before hiding it away for later use, ignoring the owner’s protest.
‘This next song we’re about to play is about Brighton’ Sella states before launching into new song Summer Shandy. ‘It’s not bullshit, you’ll see’ he jokes, after confessing that he often lies on stage. The set is unashamedly heavy on the band’s newer material, which fits in easily amongst the familiar classics, however because of this there are notable gaps in the set list. Songs such as Peach, Lipstick Covered Magnet and Funny You Should Ask, were all omissions which could otherwise be considered essential by fans.
The songs that were played however, were met with great enthusiasm, whether the crowd was bouncing along to the guitar stabs of Skeleton or shouting at the top of their lungs to cult hit The Beers the show was unequivocally a success. There was even a guest appearance from rapper GDP during the outro to Historic Cemetery, who worked his way around the stage with ease before sneaking in a quick request for free weed after the show. The man saw an opportunity and he took it.
After coming back on stage for the encore and powering through Twelve Feet Deep to a throat rattling reception, the band launch into arguably their biggest hit Twin Size Mattress. And for the final song of the night nothing is held back, the bubble machines cough back into life, the minion from earlier is tossed back into the swarming crowd (to much delight), and the fans churn out the lyrics as loud as they can. ‘She hopes I’m cursed forever to sleep on a twin size mattress, in somebody’s attic or basement my whole life’ the crowd screams, almost eradicating the need for a lead vocalist. When the final note rings clear and they’ve thanked the audience, the Front Bottoms leave the stage, safe in the assumption that no-one will be going home disappointed. And the fans undoubtedly agree, as they journey home echoing the final refrain of the last song for all of Brighton to hear.
By Matt Austin