Date: February 10th 2016
Venue: Rescue Rooms, Nottingham
Support: Kevin Devine & The Goddamn Band
The Front Bottoms struck a major record deal with Fueled By Ramen back in July for the release of their fifth full-length album, ‘Back On Top’, proving that the leap to the big leagues doesn’t have to compromise the music. The ever-growing popularity of the New Jersey rockers means that their first trip to the UK with the new material has almost sold out completely, and there are certainly no tickets for sale tonight at the Nottingham show. Rescue Rooms is packed early and buzzing for what promises to be the excuse for being so croaky at work tomorrow.
You may be familiar with Kevin Devine  as a solo artist, but he’s brought a bassist and drummer along with him as The Goddamn Band to give him a fuller and, in some instances, heavier sound. The soft rockers show their gratitude to the headliners for regularly bringing them out, and describe them as family before going on to playfully make fun of TFB singer Brian Sella, as if to show how close they are. The Brand New-esque ‘Cotton Crush’ works well with a full band as the slow builder gets a worthy crescendo, but not as exciting to the end of ‘Redbird’, as TFB drummer Ciaran O’Donnell helps out for an innovative dual drum kit close to the song.
Celine Dion‘s ‘My Heart Will Go On’ rings round Rescue Rooms until a huge cheer deafens the Titanic soundtrack as the initials of TFB appear in huge inflatable form at the back of the stage, and the New Jersey quartet appear. The Front Bottoms  dive straight into recent single ‘Laugh Till I Cry’ sending Nottingham into a frenzy, and there’s no letting off as the intro to ‘Flashlight’ gets an even bigger reaction immediately afterwards. The band have always been incredibly likeable and give the impression of being regular guys who love to get together and play music, which creates an intimate and friendly atmosphere at the shows that encourages fans to heckle and get involved. Brian reaches for a sip of his beer, but the University town chants and peer pressure him into chugging the whole thing.
A three track onslaught of ‘Talon Of The Hawk’ emphasises the strength of TFB‘s back-catalogue, as ‘Skeleton’, ‘Funny You Should Ask’, and ‘Au Revoir (Adios)’ is deafening at times, but cruel as Brian delays the ‘Adios’ on the latter until the teased crowd scream at him for the lyrics. Kevin Devine pops up with a tambourine for ‘The Beers’ for some of the older fans in the room, but it just can’t compete with the sing-a-long for ‘2YL’ which of course welcomes the trumpet and shows that the band can write something catchy with a any instrument put in front of them.
Every time The Front Bottoms arrive in the UK they have stepped up their game, and there’s no limit as to where they could end up. Any band that can pen a song like fan favourite ‘Twin Size Mattress’ to finish an encore with has the ability to hit the biggest venues in the country, and there won’t be any surprises when they’re selling out venues twice the size of this tour next time.
Written by Mike Heath (@MikeBeef)