Sunday, June 23, 2013

Live Review: The Front Bottoms, Black Cat (6/2/13)

I have been lucky enough to see The Front Bottoms five times now, and there's been quite a noticeable progression for them in their live performance. Only a year and a half ago they performed as a two piece, using a macbook to fill in the horns and synth parts. They soon added a bassist and became a three piece, and for this album cycle they finally are a full four piece band that can play electric guitar, bass, keys, and trumpet to go with the group's two core instruments of acoustic guitar and drums. Even while the live lineup and arrangement has been in flux, the one constant for their sets is an intense outpouring of energy. Their fans feed off it and create an environment surprising for the music they play, forming a chaotic storm of kids jumping, dancing, and screaming their lungs out.
Having just released their new album Talon Of The Hawk, the band accented their new material, playing almost the entirety of the release. While the album was a little bit of a disappointment on record, the live setting allowed the group to push more energy into the songs, a trait that seemed lacking throughout many of the songs. Even "Peach," possibly the weakest track the band has put out in quite a long time, felt reestablished as at least a solid track. The more fleshed out arrangements from the new album were easily replicated in the live setting, further affirming the well known fact that The Front Bottoms are a band that's built to perform live.

Unsurprisingly, it was the older tracks that got the biggest response from the rowdy crowd. Already upbeat songs such as "The Beers" get pushed to a new level in intensity from the mighty pummeling of drummer Matt Uychich, and the crowd reacted accordingly. The already sweaty crowd ended up twice as drenched by the end of that specific track, but that didn't end up quieting their singing or slowing their movements. In fact, they seemed to almost gain energy as the night went on, a counterintuitive thought that made perfect sense to anyone actually experiencing the explosive performance.

The one weak link of the night was the full band arrangement of "Twelve Feet Deep," one of the very few pre-self-titled album tracks the band continues to play live. The song plays best as the vulnerable love song that it was recorded as, and the increased drums and addition of trumpet and bass really took away from the core of the track. However that misstep was quickly forgotten as the band saved their best for the end of the performance. In the span of four songs, the band played the best track off The Front Bottoms ("Flashlight"), their biggest track ("Maps") and the two best tracks off Talon Of The Hawk ("Funny You Should Ask" and "Twin Sized Mattress"). "Twin Sized Mattress" in particular got an immense reaction from the crowd, closing out the show just as everyone in the room inevitably was about to lose their voices. However, course voices led to huge smiles, as that end product is what everyone both expects and wants from a Front Bottoms show. Based on the sounds and smells from the end of the show, I'd say nobody left disappointed.


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