The Front Bottoms level up at The Electric Factory

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photo by Rachel Del Sordo | racheldelsordophotography.com
photo by Rachel Del Sordo | racheldelsordophotography.com

Never underestimate the energy of punk fans in large quantities gathered in a room together. Capping a week that already saw regional faves The Wonder Years and Circa Survive pack the Electric Factory, Jersey sons The Front Bottoms took the stage Saturday night to a rabid crowd at the Callowhill venue.

The band has made huge strides in the past couple years, going from packing World Cafe Live downstairs for the release of The Talon of The Hawk to filling out a venue quadruple its size for its first proper headlining show in Philly since the summer release of Back on Top. The new songs are still sort of taking shape live – “West Virginia” felt a little plodding, and despite pockets of singing in the crowd, “Cough It Out” felt thin. The new jams seemed not as familiar and beloved among the teeming masses, though the bouncing “HELP” and playful “Summer Shandy” brought the energy.

The Front Bottoms | photo by Rachel Del Sordo
The Front Bottoms | photo by Rachel Del Sordo

Not like the crowd really needed it brought to them – Front Bottoms fans are pretty much all devotees, and they love to party. See, for instance, non stop cloud of vaping that could be mistaken for a dry ice machine on the lefthand side of the crowd.
They also like to scream along. See also the reaction the masses had to back-catalog favorite “The Beers” when the instruments stopped and frontman Brian Sella turned the mic over to the fans.

Because of that participatory side of a Front Bottoms live show, the most electric moments last night were the songs that had been with the crowd the longest – “Maps,” “Skeletons” and the epic closer “Twin Size Mattress.” That’s not to say the band solely needs the interaction to be awesome, and as they get bigger in stature, Sella and co. are clearly more open to expanding their sound and collaborating, whether it was getting NYC’s Uptown Horns to blow along to “The Feud” from Talon or bringing out their Jersey bud GDP to spit some rhymes at the end of “Historic Cemetery.”

It was a big night for the band – Sella began the show by saying “it’s been a long tour and I’ve kept saying to myself, ‘just make it to Philly’,” he called it his “hometown show” midway through (I’ll never dispute that they’re Jersey through and through, but hell, if TFB’s want to call Philly hometown, we’ll take it) and ended by saying “This is the greatest night of my life.” And maybe it’s banter he says to all his crowds, but you nonetheless got the sense – given the path the band took from playing The Fire to packing the Factory – that he totally meant it.

photo by Rachel Del Sordo | racheldelsordophotography.com
photo by Rachel Del Sordo | racheldelsordophotography.com

Early arrivals to the show were treated to two excellent opening sets. Since we last saw them at PhilaMOCA, Elvis Depressedly has gained a lot more onstage confidence – the stuff that comes with playing for a lot more people. Some of their songs still just kind of abruptly end, but the vibes they hook onto along the way are fabulous.

And Australian four-piece The Smith Street Band delivered a blistering performance of rousing, Menzingers-style pop punk aggression and catchiness. Frontman Wil Wagner actually namechecked The Menzos – along with Modern Baseball, Cayetana, Restorations and Hop Along (“the greatest fucking band of the last 20 years”) – in telling the crowd how much he loves the Philly music scene and that “you should feel really lucky.” We totally do. Check out photos from the show in the gallery below.

 

Setlist
Au Revoir (Adios)
Flashlight
Be Nice to Me
HELP
West Virginia
The Beers
The Feud (with Uptown Horns)
Ginger (with Uptown Horns)
The Plan (Fuck Jobs) (with Uptown Horns)
Skeleton
Summer Shandy
Laugh Till I Cry
Cough It Out
Maps
Historic Cemetery (with GDP)
Bathtub
Funny You Should Ask

Encore:
Twelve Feet Deep
Twin Size Mattress

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