“There’s comfort in the bottom of a swimming pool, I’m holding my breath for you”
From densely packed basements to the grand walls of Birmingham’s o2 Institute, The Front Bottoms’ have shown no signs of slowing down over the last few years.
Now cruising to success on the backs of their smooth melodies, catchy hooks and innately charming lyricism; the acoustic duo gone pop outfit are living proof that no matter where they end up, they’ll always remember their roots.
The night was opened by the flamboyant Brick and Mortar and the ever talented The Smith Street Band, both of which put on more than stellar performances. Brick and Mortar particularly enticed the crowd through the use of quirky, pantomime-esque costumes and a kind of contagious fun that’s often lost in many other indie rock bands. Conversely, The Smith Street Band relied solely on their layered instrumentals and infectious stage presence, rivalling even the most experienced rock acts, to make their mark on the night. Overall, the two supports struck a rather unique balance over their two performances; displaying both fun and intensity expertly over the two short sets.
As large screens on each side of the stage began to flicker to life, The Front Bottoms began to embark the stage. First up was drummer Matt Uychich, casting a large shadow as he quickly moved past the artificial backdrop of a scenic ocean, a large smile overtaking his face. The rest of the band then began to enter one by one, bringing new faces to the stage, Roshane Karunaratne (Keys), Erik Romero (Bass) and Jenn Fantaccoine (Trumpet, Violin and Vocals) took up their respective instruments as sounds of the ocean swam softly through the PA and settled around the room.
Finally, the two remaining members appeared, guitarist Tom Warren taking the right of the stage and frontman Brian Sella stepping up to his microphone to a thunderous applause from the young crowd. With their entrances complete, The Front Bottoms ready to have some fun as they dove into their first track of the night, You Used to Say (Holy F*ck).
As the band’s all star set began to unfold before the energetic crowd, it became clear that The Front Bottoms weren’t playing around! The band preformed an incredibly varied mix of tracks from their now six-album long discography including fan favourites such as the emotionally raw Swimming Pool; the outstanding Lipstick Covered Magnet and Twin Size Mattress, while also taking embracing their new synth-pop inspired sound with tracks: Cough it Out, Vacation Town and Peace Sign.
It wasn’t just the set list that went above and beyond however, the band themselves have never been tighter, performing with big smiles, great stage presence and some pretty on-point stage banter – the highlight of which being Tom’s ‘Birmingham Song’ which he happily sang out towards the end of the set. In fact, being a The Front Bottoms fan for over five years now has only highlighted the strengths of their newest line up. The addition of violins, trumpets and a solo synth player has made the band’s newest material sound phenomenal live and more than beefed up the older, more striped down songs into absolute hits.
There’s not really much else to say, apart from the fact that The Front Bottoms have found their formula and perfected it, making them an absolute joy to spectate. Whether you’re an old fan craving those old emo tunes or a newcomer looking for electric hooks, The Front Bottoms provide just about all of it and that itself is an accomplishment worthy of the highest acclaim.
(Photos by Sarah Maiden)