Saturday, 21 September 2013

gig review: The Front Bottoms @ King Tuts, 16th September

Live with them long enough and even the worst band names start to seem reasonable. Still, it’s hard to imagine acclimatising to The Front Bottoms’ chosen moniker – unfortunate, since they possess more nous than the puerile name might suggest.

Five months on from their last Tut’s visit, the New Jerseyans return to find latest album Talon of the Hawk firmly committed to memory for significant sections of the audience – and, in one case, fresh ink committed to skin in their honour (“last time we were here she said she was going to do that” says frontman Brian Sella of the fan in question, “and I did not fucking believe her…”).

With a glut of catchy choruses, an often-galloping pace, and lyrics that mix flip humour with sincerity, it’s easy to see why the band has been claimed by/lumped in with the Warped Tour-end of pop-punk. But they push against the pigeonhole hard enough for it to crack, with echoes of The Thermals in the The Feud’s ragged joyride, and even Why? in the vocal delivery of Twin Mattresses. It’s only when they fall back on the genre’s quick-fix clichés that their crossover appeal fades, but it’s nothing a setlist shake-up – and maybe a re-brand? – couldn’t remedy.

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