Pop-punk isn’t really the type of scene that bands really grow into large acts in; emo is much more unlikely. Still, against all odds, The Front Bottoms have reared their heads out of a niche corner in an underground scene and become full-fledged rockstars. Seeing them headline Terminal 5, the largest venue the band has ever headlined, it was hard not to get teary-eyed with pride.
Terminal 5 is an unlikely type of venue to set as a standard for making it. The club was infamous for it’s poor acoustics for years, and the sight-lines are still horrendous. Still, this a place that I’ve seen Japandroids in. Artists like Tyler, the Creator and Lana Del Rey play Terminal 5. The Front Bottoms could sell out a big room, but this seemed surreal.
UK emo-pop-punks Basement opened the tour. Basement are a solid yet unbearably boring band. What the band lacks in songwriting, they make up for in stage presence. Their energy is undeniable, and the kids certainly do like it. Watching from above, the pit was rarely not in motion, and it really opened up for the last song before the drop. Even if they’re a lackluster band to listen to, Basement do well in entertaining.
Having seen The Front Bottoms over the years, I’ve seen their stage show grow. Whether they were opening acts or playing Christmas parties, they could be engaging with very little or on an overcrowded stage. This tour saw them playing as a six-piece for the first time and with video screens with graphics tailored to the set. This was their most traditional rock show that I’d seen them play, but it was also one of the most energetic.
The Front Bottoms are on their second album for Fueled by Ramen. It’s their fourth with a label-backing and sixth overall. Going Grey was a disappointment, and going into the show, it seemed like a large portion of the crowd were hoping that the band wouldn’t really be pulling many songs from it. While the band leaned heavily on the new songs, this wasn’t a detriment to the show. Performing them live, the new songs sound just like old Front Bottoms songs. They fit more into the discography with more real life energy, and it seems the record was simply overproduced. Frontman Brian Sella is minimal in what he does onstage, but he also provides just enough in his gestures and movement to be interesting. He also has an unbeatable energy as he bounces with his words, hunched over his microphone. Whether he’s playing “Don’t Fill Up on Chips” or “The Beers,” he’s unafraid to moan and yelp into his microphone.
This being more or less a hometown show, Sella and Matt Uychich seemed to be both more on their game and more celebratory. Sella pounded a few beers onstage and seemed genuinely in awe of the size of the venue, but he also kept up a jokey demeanor. The last two times I’d seen The Front Bottoms, Sella would close the shows by saying “We’re The Front Bottoms. Tell all your friends about us.” This show really felt like a gig among friends. The Front Bottoms seem like your goofy friends’ band who tell stupid inside jokes onstage regardless of if their audience knows them or not. They’re never going to be an arena selling out act, but they’re sure to see bigger stages and more crowds. No matter how big the venue though, it seems like they’ll always be your silly friends.