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Feeling sad and trying to act cool – The Front Bottoms Live

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Despite everything, The Front Bottoms are spearing emo-punk in this decade.

By all means The Front Bottoms should be nowhere near as popular as they are. The face of the band, Brian Sella, is not a classically trained singer; I’d go as far to say that he can barely sing. His voice cracks repeatedly and some notes end up either flat or sharp, depending on the mood. He plays an acoustic guitar and drinks Coors Light. He has a pleather sofa, table lamps, and a CRT playing ‘Scream’ up on stage. He’s not particularly attractive either. Brian Sella is not the definition of cool. Despite this, there are hundreds of Tumblr blogs dedicated to him. Despite this, fans scream when he appears on stage. Despite everything, The Front Bottoms are spearing emo-punk in this decade.

The Front Bottoms write songs about being poor, being lazy, being in love. Their lyrics are endlessly relatable as Sella wails about taking steroids to impress a girl, drinking in the early afternoon, and sleeping in your car. I think that is the reason they’re so popular. While children of the early nineties grew up listening to Blink-182 and Sum 41, the younger generation are listening to these losers.

I really do mean a younger generation than that of mine. One girl came with her dad, his expression making it look like it wasn’t the first time. While waiting to try and meet the band after the show she moaned about having to go to physics the following morning – I haven’t felt older in a while. It didn’t stop me having an absolute whale of a time.

The Front Bottoms write songs about being poor, being lazy, being in love.

The support acts were further away from the acoustic din of The Front Bottoms, with Apologies I Have None and Gnarwolves opening. I wasn’t that familiar with them but they sounded a lot heavier than I was used to, with a huge crowd of sixteen year olds moshing in the centre of the stage. The fans at the gig were wearing shirts by bands like Neck Deep and Bear Tooth, and Sella joked later in his set that there was still a mosh pit raging for his quiet acoustic songs about being in a dying relationship. It didn’t matter to them – they were having a great time.

The atmosphere in the O2 Institute was fantastic. There wasn’t a fan who didn’t know every line of every song, and not for one moment did the band do the ‘Robbie Williams thing’ where they let the fans sing. The fans paid to hear Brian Sella “sing” and so he did. With seventeen songs on the setlist and not a dud amongst them it was fantastic to hear the music I’ve been listening to on Spotify be performed live. It was a perfect recreation. While I felt the mixing on the supports was lacking, The Front Bottoms sounded just as they do on record – something I can’t say for every band.

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The Front Bottoms in performance. Image: Laura Luz/Flickr

Standout tracks included ‘Twin Size Mattress’ a song written about losing friends to addiction. The room went wild at the opening riff and the madness didn’t stop until a huge round of applause at the song’s close. Another excellent one was when the band returned for a thrilling encore of two songs, ‘Twelve Feet Deep’ and ‘Maps.’ I went crazy anyway.

The Front Bottoms went from playing in the Institute’s smaller rooms to its largest in just eight months. Between them and Modern Baseball, they’re making the best music I’ve heard about feeling sad and trying to act cool. Because really, what else are we all doing?

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