by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com
Please note: I knew nothing about The Front Bottoms prior to last night’s show. I got a cold-call email from one of the opening band’s publicists asking if I wanted on the list. It was an early show, so I figured why not? Being the pompous, egotistical prick that I am, I figured if I hadn’t heard of these guys, chances are no one else has. Plus, it was an early show. So what if it’s a Sunday night, why not drop by for a cold Rolling Rock and a quiet, relaxing evening at The Waiting Room?
Well, needless to say, I was wrong again. There was a line to get in when I arrived just before 8. The same ol’ question: Where and how did all these folks (the youngest crowd I’ve seen at TWR in a while) hear about these guys when their music isn’t played on local radio? Oh the power of the Internet.
The Front Bottoms is centered around frontman Brian Sella, who led the proceedings with nothing but an acoustic guitar and his sterling voice. Their sound was reminiscent of some of my favorite humor-inflected bands of the ‘90s and ’00s — Atom and his Package, Fountains of Wayne, Too Much Joy, Mountain Goats, Dismemberment Plan, The Hold Steady, The Decemberists — bands that write smart, funny, self-referential lyrics that anyone can relate to. And Sella’s delivery was completely mumble-free — you could understand every clever word he sang. Needless to say, so did the crowd, which sang every word right back at him.
Despite his acoustic attack, the music was high-energy bordering on emo-punk. Stage diving and crowd surfing were the norm. Stage right looked like a conveyor belt launching kids into the crowd, while a giant blow-up snowman yard sculpture danced in the background, joined by a trio of day-glow “air dancers” — those huge skinny blow-up things you see outside of tire stores.
What more to say about this band other than I liked every song. Sella is a master songwriter and a funny guy who kept the crowd laughing between tunes, stopping once mid-song as a crowd surfer slammed head-first into the stage right in front of his feet. “If you’re going to push someone off you, push them away from me.”
Interestingly, their Bar/None debut full-length — released last May — got no mentions on Album of the Year or Pitchfork. In fact, there’s little info about Front Bottoms anywhere on the interweb. They’re still under the radar… for now, though they just got a glowing write-up in Brooklyn Vegan and played a sold-out Bowery Ballroom show a few weeks ago.
It’s only a matter of time until the indie press discovers what they’ve been missing. The Front Bottoms could be the next Matt and Kim, albeit with smarter lyrics and better songs (Yeah, I’m not a big Matt & Kim fan, though I respect the energy they put into their live show). Front Bottoms are the sort of about-to-be-discovered act that Maha should look into booking for this year’s festival (which according to their twitter feed, they’ve already booked a headliner for). I have no doubt that everyone at last night’s show would buy tickets to see them again. I certainly would.
Opening band The Wild was a 5-piece rock band whose emo-esque songs reminded me of Titus Andronicus minus the 8+-minute songs. Instead, their rural punk got a touch of twang via a smokin’ banjo, which I wish they would play on all their songs. Who would have thought banjo could rock so hard?
Second opener You Blew It was pure ‘90s/‘00s anthem/emo, though their sound was harder and less self-absorbed than the schlock I remember from those decades…
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Read Tim McMahan’s blog daily at Lazy-i.com — an online music magazine that includes feature interviews, reviews and news. The focus is on the national indie music scene with a special emphasis on the best original bands in the Omaha area. Copyright © 2014 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.
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