The day before I started sixth form, I went to see The Front Bottoms at The Joiners, a band I’d loved for mere months (compared to my years of unwavering love for them now) and whose tickets my mum surprised me with after hearing me playing them non-stop and worked out I must like them.
It’s been eight years since they released their debut album, I Hate My Friends, their first step into grungy punk recorded in a garage. By 2014 they had two EPs and two more albums, this tour being part of their Talon of the Hawk promotion.
Except, which I learnt seeing them later and knowing more about them as band, their gigs are more like a party and celebration of everyone’s favourite songs. The Front Bottoms themselves know that Talon… isn’t full of fan favourites – it has songs that made them blow up, like ‘Twin Size Mattress’ (always their encore song), but what everyone really wanted to hear was their self-titled album and the Rose EP, a collection of their older songs but revamped.
So the day before I started at a different school for sixth form, mum and I were driving to Southampton for a gig. I mean it was a sold out gig which she still got tickets for, so I could handle being a bit tired the next day. The Joiners is a very small venue and it’s pretty much going to be crowded wherever you stand, so we stood right next to the stage. Turns out The Joiners didn’t have air con back then, so it was unspeakably hot, but TFB were cool (literally, they had fans) and threw out water bottles. What a chill band.
Despite having only known them for a short amount of time, I could sing every single song they played (mostly from their self-titled, Rose and Talon…). Their energy and enthusiasm for what they were doing was enough to make me forget about the heat, because it was just so cool to see my favourite band in England, near where I live, actually hearing their songs being played in front of me. And the crowd seemed to feel the same; despite the amount of people trying to stage dive, it was a really excited group of mostly young adults who all just wanted to hear them play. The atmosphere was electric, with the majority of people singing to every single song they played.
The self-described punk-rock band from New Jersey sang every song exactly how it sounded on the album. Highlights of the gig were definitely their encore, ‘Twelve Feet Deep’ and ‘Twin Size Mattress’, because they are by far their most popular songs, so it was an incredible note to end the night on. I also loved hearing songs that I didn’t know as well as others, some older ones like ‘Flying Model Rockets’ and ‘Lonely Eyes’.
The Front Bottoms are a fun band to see – rock, pop-punk, and a giant inflatable dancing man at the back of the stage. And the second they’re back in the UK, you can bet I’ll be there to see them because their gigs just feel like a massive party. It doesn’t feel ‘staged’ or scripted, they have a loose set list but they made it feel so laid back and fun that it’s no wonder their popularity is growing. A much loved band, and one of my favourite gigs.