Freshers’ Special: How the music of The Front Bottoms helped my transition to university


I was probably the most prepared out of all of my friends for moving to university. My results day was spent half with champagne and friends, half frantically working through the checklist of setting up email accounts and confirming accommodation just to get it sorted. I was fully packed weeks before I actually moved and I’d visited Southampton so many times in the year before going.

However, I was still worried about leaving home for university. This small town that I’d lived in for years, in a familiar home with two adorable cats, was being traded for a relatively small city which, while I knew pretty well, was still different to home. I was worried about everything changing without me being there to see it; every time I came back home things were always slightly different in town or at home, even if it was just new shops opening or the kitchen being arranged differently. Even when I was catsitting for a long weekend when mum and her boyfriend were away, not being able to instantly find things in the house made it feel ever so slightly like it wasn’t my home anymore – so familiar, but a little out of place.

When I moved to Southampton I organised my flat outside of the ‘unpack everything and find a vaguely suitable home for it’ method. I wanted everything to be as familiar as possible, so I had photos of friends and family covering my living room and The Front Bottoms playing. A band whom, for the past two years, had been my absolute favourites and on repeat constantly.

Their music completely helped me to transition to uni because during a time where everything was completely changing, such familiar songs were still there for me to listen to. And when I say familiar, I mean I could sing you every lyric exactly how it’s sung on the recordings and tell you what they all mean, the changes made for live songs- everything. They’re a complete musical obsession for me, and I think the reason why is because I can’t relate their music to any emotion, big life changes, break-ups, nothing. I can’t relate a song to my ex, my boyfriend hasn’t called me his ‘peach’, it’s music I’ve just listened to constantly throughout happy times, sad times, stress, revision, preparing for therapy, train journeys.

And sure, some of the lyrics do hit home. But it’s the ones about change that really stuck out to me, the ones that I favoured listening to during Freshers. ‘Forget and ignore who I used to be’ being so reminiscent of the idea of reinventing yourself at university, ditching the parts of yourself you don’t like. ‘The dark never seems that dark when it’s finally light’, something to remind myself that things might feel crappy when my oven’s broken and I miss my cats, but they’ll always work out. And even when ‘everything you’re feeling is common, even though you’ve never felt so alone’ – it really does feel like everything crappy you’re feeling that you’re the only one who feels it, but in reality everyone is feeling the same way.

And ‘Flashlight’, my absolute favourite; and one which I bought Etsy merch of: ‘I am sad, I am sad, but when I’m happy I am happy, there’s just no place inbetween for us to meet’ really spoke to me. Mid-2015/spring 2016 was a pretty rough time for me mentally and emotionally, and I felt like I just kept swinging between happy and sad and I could never just be stable and constant, something I felt I needed to be in my relationships with people. But, like The Front Bottoms love to sing about, my friends were still there and supportive and incredible and everything really did work out.

Homesickness won’t last forever. Mental health problems may last a little longer, but they still aren’t forever. And The Front Bottoms helped me to stay grounded and thinking of home, friends I was making and the friends who were now spread across the country, and that I would, eventually, be fine.


About Author


Politics and International Relations graduate, Live Editor 2016-18, now a semi-functional adult and journalist. Fan of cats, gigs and a tea lover - find me rambling about the above @cmkavanagh on Twitter.

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