The Front Bottoms
with The Smith Street Band, Elvis Depressedly
The Beacham; Orlando, FL • November 24, 2015
by Jen Cray
There’s a very exciting moment, in a band’s trajectory to fame, it’s when they themselves aren’t even sure how popular they’re becoming. Their booking agent, their label, their publicist — even their fans — haven’t quite caught wind of the changing tide that soon will whisk them off of the small stages and into a more untouchable stratosphere. I’ve been lucky enough to witness these moments many times — seeing Yeah Yeah Yeahs in a venue that maxed out at 400, catching The Killers when they were still grounded enough to be stunned at selling out the House of Blues, driving to Gainesville to see The Black Keys play for a half empty room at what is now the High Dive. The Front Bottoms may just be joining that long list of bands on the cusp of stardom, if their sold-out-to-an-almost-uncomfortable-degree show at The Beacham is any indicator.
Initially booked next door at The Social, the show sold-out almost immediately and was moved to the much larger Beacham — and then it sold-out again. It sold out so fast that the Facebook event page was soon littered with desperate fans seeking tickets.
For The Front Bottoms?! Who the hell are The Front Bottoms, right?! Well, their name may be more familiar very very soon.
Kicking off the show on a very, very sleepy note was Elvis Depressedly — a sad and somber four piece Asheville, NC that is so lo-fi they may as well not even be onstage. There was effort to draw the crowd in and, though it was a polite audience that stood and listened, few seemed at all moved by the group — except when The Front Bottoms’ drummer Mat Uychich joined in for a song.
Unlike the eruption of passion that came from The Smith Street Band. These guys sounded like Frank Turner fronting The Gaslight Anthem, except — ya know — Australian. Their fervor was contagious and singer/guitarist Wil Wagner was so amazed at the volume of his own lyrics shouted in sync with him, from the already converted fans tucked in amidst us newbies, that he couldn’t suppress a chuckle, or two onstage. They had my heart within minutes. This is most definitely a band worth checking, should they fly through your town. In the mean time, memorize every word to every song on Throw Me in the River, and Wagner will love you forever.
Giant inflatable initials (TFB) backdrop the headliners as they open an impressive and aggressive set with a crowd pleaser, “Funny You Should Ask.” Within seconds the crowd swells and bodies are passed around, further proving that in 2015 punk shows no longer hold the patent on crowd surfing. Indie rock with punchy vocals, and hints of pop punk and even folk? Crowd surf is up, man!
Joining the band onstage, at times, was one of those hilarious inflated tube dancing guys that you see outside of car lots. It’s goofy, it’s inexplicable, and it never fails to make me giggle. Not that they needed any of these gimmicky visuals onstage, the Jersey band sounded tight and their fans were earnest in their affection. The sea of faces I looked out upon were contorted in almost cartoonish extremes of emotion as they shouted along to lines like “When I’m sad/ oh god I’m sad/ but when I’m happy I am happy/ There’s just no place in between for us to meet” (from “Flashlight”), or “She hopes I’m cursed forever to/ Sleep on a twin-sized mattress/ In somebody’s attic or basement my whole life” (from the encore “Twin Size Mattress”).
These fans are ready to carry The Front Bottoms anywhere they wish to go, and that may just be onto stages big enough to house any size inflatables their precious pop hearts desire.