review + photo gallery by: Malia Jenkins
From modest beginnings with a fluctuating band holding more members than their original fan base, The Front Bottoms have truly found their niche in the music world, and it’s clear they’re not giving it up. It’s a common route for bands to gain popularity and acquire an ever-growing following, but with The Front Bottoms (or as their listeners lovingly refer to them, “TFB”), their fan base holds an entirely different feel. Even while waiting to gain entrance to the venue from outside in the frigid Colorado air, there was a warmth emanating from the crowd that wrapped around the building. Strangers were conversing, laughing, sharing excited stories, and one kindhearted fan was even loaning out armfuls of blankets to freezing attendees. There was a feeling of mutual acceptance and anticipation for the experience that was about to happen—and that’s exactly what The Front Bottoms provided—an experience.
The moment that Brian Sella (vocals/guitar), Mat Uychich (drums), Tom Warren (bass/backing vocals), and Ciaran O’Donnell (guitar/trumpet/keys) drifted onto the stage, the crowd was electric. Having been aware that TFB drew smaller crowds in their early years, even up until late 2013, the roar of a packed venue nearly knocked me off my feet. The band’s lively, honest music has struck a chord with people of all ages, and solidified a loyal following with their grounded attitudes toward their climbing success. Sella introduced himself by saying, “I’m here, and I’m wearing a nice shirt,” and that’s all that was needed to say—TFB is without a doubt one of those rare bands that genuinely connects with their audience and puts so much attention and care into performing for their listeners, while simultaneously not giving a single flying fuck if their music isn’t well received. Their ability to not take themselves too seriously provides the perfect platform for their music to spread an insanely infectious energy that’s impossible not to get lost in. Snag any member from the crowd, and more than likely they’ll know every word to every song. Also more than likely, they’ll have crowd-surfed at some point during the show. The sense of community was so strong with TFB’s fans and everyone wanted everyone else to have the best time possible, so one person after the other navigated headfirst atop a swirling ocean of singing fans and music-fueled euphoria, each reaching toward the rafters for a moment of godlike bliss. It was like our own miniature U.S. Open of Crowdsurfing. Ten out of ten; full marks.
If their studio albums didn’t convince you that The Front Bottoms are your new favorite band, seeing them live surely will. Their raw appreciation for music and the act of just being onstage singing about the miniscule and the gargantuan sets them apart from a lot of other up-and-coming bands. Raw, rough power chords support raucous drumming and thrumming bass undertones, while Sella provides crooning vocals that channel an early Neutral Milk Hotel vibe. Simple, plinking piano compliments the controlled blare of O’Donnell’s trumpet—the perfect dose of brass to round everything out. The Front Bottoms have a knack for taking the pure, honest truth and throwing it in your face in a beautifully simple way, a way that sticks to the soul rather than ricocheting to the floor, as is what happens with so many other artists who haven’t mastered the balance of truth and storytelling. Hell, TFB could write about a cold hot dog abandoned under a sofa, and I’d probably be touched enough by the undeniable melodic energy and cut-and-dry lyrics to get that as my next tattoo. That is the unknowing power and charm of a genuine, self-aware band that produces genuine, self-aware music. That is the unknowing power and charm of The Front Bottoms.
You can join in on the Back On Top Tour now through November 30th in the U.S., and February 4th through February 29th of 2016, when The Front Bottoms will take to the U.K. and surrounding areas to finish off the tour.