Catfish and the Bottlemen @ First Ave Mainroom Minneapolis, MN

AHHHH! So I came Home (Minnesota) earlier this month for a couple weeks to visit family, friends, the city, etcetera. I love Minneapolis and all my people so much, and being away from it all for the past six months has only made my love grow stronger. So thanks to everyone for being the greatest people, and thanks to Minnesota for having the best public radio, being green, and not deathly humid in the summer (*cough cough* Florida. *death staring out my bedroom window at our one sad, tiny palm tree in the front yard*). Anyway, now that the fan-girling over Home is over, lets begin with Catfish!

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I saw Catfish and the Bottlemen on my eighteenth birthday last year, it was a gift to myself. Unlike other freshly 18 year olds buying scratch-offs and cigarettes, I celebrated by finally going to an 18+ show! They played Varsity Theater and were greater than I had expected music wise, but we got there late, so we were pretty far back in the crowd. We had trouble seeing and there was a ton of fog, so that didn’t help with the visibility either.

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Catfish and the Bottlemen // Varsity Theater 6/9/2015

This year, The Bottlemen announced their U.S. tour and they just so happened to have a stop in MPLS while I was back home. I bought a ticket before I flew back, not really knowing who I’d go with. fast forward to me in MN, and it turns out a bunch of people I knew were going, so I bummed a ride with Marge and Syd and off we went! ( s/o to Maggie Yetzer and Sydney Rezac who, aside from being the coolest grrrls out there, came and visited me in FL this past spring. Bless their hearts!)

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Marge and Syd and I after the concert, holding hands to keep the magic flowing. 

The band was playing to a considerably larger crowd at the Mainroom of First Ave with the capacity for over 500 more people than last year’s Varsity show. They had the Worn Flints (who’s lead singer made it clear they were from Ohio) opening on their tour for the past few shows. I was impressed being that it was the first I’d heard of them. Their lead, Kenny Steigele, was a little weird in a comical way, very much like Jack Black in School of Rock.

Shortly after the Worn Flints left the stage, Catfish and the Bottlemen casually appeared on stage and jumped right into “Kathleen” off their first album, The Balcony. Van McCann, one of my many musician crushes, seemed to be a fan of this little move where he leaned into the mic stand during the verses, almost to the point of it falling. Crowd favorites were definitely the gems off the first album, and their new singles off The Ride.

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yes I know this is a crappy phone picture, don’t yell at me I didn’t have a photo pass

Marge, Syd, and I were standing only a few rows of people back, stage left. The majority of those around us were parents who were there with their too-young-to-get-in-alone kids, so nobody was moving. Marge, Syd, and I were dancing and bouncing like a bunch of crazy fan-girls (but I swear we’re cool, honest), and Marge was belting the lyrics with all her might. We caught the attention of Van, and between songs in his dreamy Welsh accent he said to us, and more specifically Marge, “I see you all dancing over there! You [Marge] singing all the words, you having a good time?!” We flipped out about it later.

I had really been hoping for them to do “Glasgow”, sadly though they didn’t. Mid-set we did get an acoustic rendition of “Hourglass”, which sufficed just as well because Van has the voice of an angel and it was just magic.

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photo cred to Margie

The rest of the show was #lit as the kids say it these days. Catfish finished their show sweaty as hell with an extremely charged “Tyrants”, everyone was screaming along. At the end of the song, Van climbed the amps on stage and hung  his guitar from the lights. This one went down in my book as one of the best concerts since The Wombats last year, it just might have topped that show. You can catch Catfish on their fall U.S. tour in most major cities. They won’t be stopping in MN, but they will be in Chicago, thats close enough, right?!

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The Front Bottoms with Diet Cig @ Revolution Live Ft. Lauderdale, FL

I went and saw The Front Bottoms and Diet Cig last week, and I know I said previously that I had to rearrange my top concerts list after seeing SWMRS, but I had to do some more rearranging after this show. Diet Cig now sits at number two for stage performance and music, and The Front Bottoms rolled into the second place spot for how much they resonated with the crowd.

After sorting out the ever recurring issues with press and photo passes, (I know, I sound so awful and pretentious for complaining about “being on the list”, but there really were a lot of bumps in the road this time) I got inside and scouted out some good places to take photos, and the venue filled faster than any show I’ve ever been to. Diet Cig opened and immediately got everyone dancing and jumping around. Lead singer and guitarist, Alex Luciano, has some of the most fun and seemingly everlasting energy on stage; it’s extremely contagious.  

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I was most excited to see Diet Cig’s set, having recently fallen in love with their first EP Over Easy, and I can’t say enough how incredibly great they are live. I fell in love even more when Alex dedicated one of their new songs to the ladies and trans fans in the crowd. “This one is for all my girls out there, sweatin’ your highlighter off! And to all our trans friends too. Know we love and support you, because it’s hard to be marginalized!” 

Before the Front Bottoms came out, the pit of the venue started filling, fast. People were packing themselves in so tight, and there was a line of people by both stairs, all trying to get down by the stage. The band walked out to some ballad that I’m pretty sure was from The Titanic, but someone needs to check me on that, I’ve only seen that movie once, maybe. Anyways, it was really funny, and the second they started playing the crowd went crazy.

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I was thinking a lot about how the reason behind this show being as rowdy as it was. I came up with this: things got crazy because the entirety of the audience were angsty teens, nobody could have been over 25, tops. South Florida doesn’t have a whole lot to do, or a whole lot of places for the edgy and brooding youths of the area. So, when a good band comes to town, its a big deal, A) because there’s nothing else to do, and B) because not a lot of smaller/lesser know/not top 40 pop/indie/alt bands make it down here on tours. The kids put their whole beings into the singing, and moshing, and dancing, and crowd surfing at these shows, because they want it to be one to remember, for themselves and the bands. A riotous cry of “don’t forget about us down here in south Florida! We like good music too!” 

The Front Bottoms closed out the show with a three song encore, finishing with “Twin Sized Mattress.” The members of the opener bands joined them on stage mid-song, dragging out instruments with them. A gorgeous mayhem ensued on stage and in the crowd to accompany the lyrics “I want to contribute to the chaos!” screamed by nearly everyone in the venue. It was kind of magic. Following is the full photo album from the show, enjoy!

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I want to contribute to the chaos!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

SWMRS at O’Malley’s. Margate, FL 25/02/16

have always had a definite list of top three concerts I’ve ever been to that consists in, from first to last, in The Wombats at Varsity Theater, Hippo Campus at UW River Falls and Matt & Kim at Rock the Garden 2014. My list rarely ever changes, but after the SWMRS show in Margate, FL last week, some adjustments may need to be made. 
 
I’ve been thinking about this really hard the last few days and I think SWMRS have beat out Hippo Campus for the number two spot when it comes to stage performance and experience, and the bumped Matt & Kim from the third place spot regarding music.
Cannelle [editor of Indie Daydreamer] suggested I check out the show a few weeks back, so I looked into them and didn’t give them much thought until a few days before the show when I started listening to their debut album on repeat in preparation. These distinctly Oakland, California boys have made it a clear fact that they are not from LA and think Miley [Cyrus] is a punk rock queen. Their sound is very surf-punk, though they call it ‘Hawaiiange,’ condensed for Hawaiian grunge.
When I showed up to the venue, a friend in tow, we were less than excited by a strip mall sports bar about 7 miles from the Everglades. We waited a bit for doors to open, and “the guy with the list” wasn’t there yet so I waited, and shortly after a large black van come ripping through the parking lot. The door opened before the van stopped and Steve, the list guy, jumps out and runs at me with a hug, apologizing for being late.
Once inside, it was a matter of waiting through two short sets for local bands. The place was your typical sports bar, fried food and the regulars at the pool tables. One thing that I always forget is that you can smoke indoors in FL, whereas in MN you haven’t been able to for years. Now I’m young, still a teenager, but the crowd made me feel so old. There was a good amount of punky teenagers, with band shirts, flannels, skinny jeans, side cuts, cigarettes tucked behind ears à la Mac DeMarco, and tons of Vans, like so many.

Mikey Carnevale, lead singer and guitar, Adam Lomnitzer, drums, of The frights
The Frights
The Frights opened for SWMRS, and oh my gravity was that a match made in heaven! It’s a rare occasion when an opener so seamlessly flows with the headliner. They had a similar sound, but different enough that they were distinct of each other. There was obvious chemistry between the two bands being that Cole Becker (lead vocals and guitar of SWMRS) was in the audience watching most of The Frights’ set. Seb Mueller (Bass and vocals for SWMRS) was spotted in the crowd as well, enjoying a powerful cover of Weezer’s “Undone” with Cole.
As for SWMRS’ set, Cole told the audience, “Yeah so if you’re here to see us, you should probably stand up, you’re gonna want to stand,” before they started the first song, “Harry Dean,” and he screamed into the mic. They have so much energy on stage, jumping on and off amps and into the crowd. Cole is reminiscent of Kurt Cobain, with the whole hair in face, sweater and flannel deal he has going on. Nearly everyone gathered around the stage were singing along to “Miley” and when they played “D’Have a Car?” Cole instructed, “Ya’ll got to jump!” and they did. The finished the set with a sweaty “Drive North” in which the lyrics were cleverly changed to Florida cities, screaming “I hate Miami!” after some between-song banter regarding the crowds communal dislike of Miami.
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Cole Becker of SWMRS
The atmosphere was so fun and full of youthful energy, something Cole says really inspires him.”I’m really inspired by my peers, and passionate kids, like tonight’s show was so great for me!” We talked about Minneapolis (where I’m from) and Familia Skate Shop that Joey’s (Drums) uncle owns. Even the little bit I was able to speak with him after the show, it’s easy to tell he’s very socially aware, like I’d put him up there as the male version of Tavi Gevinson when it comes to current social issues.
You can catch them still on the tail end of their US tour, and they’ll be in the UK later this spring. All in all, I was very impressed with both The Frights and SWMRS; I haven’t listened to anything but them since, and I’d hands down go see them again!
(Editor’s note: originally written for Indie Daydreamer).