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Catfish And The Bottlemen At The Troubadour: Show Review

Joyce Jude Lee |
February 10, 2015 | 5:31 p.m. PST

Music Editor

Encore (Joyce Jude Lee/Neon Tommy)
Encore (Joyce Jude Lee/Neon Tommy)
Catfish and The Bottlemen are the most exciting act in music right now.

A hefty statement, sure, especially since it's only these self-deemed "bunch of nobodies'" second time touring America. But if you’ve seen them perform, you’ll agree that they are in every way deserving of all the accolades and more. Their debut album, "The Balcony,” received rave reviews and the Llandudno guitar gang has been gigging constantly in support of it. On Monday day, the Welsh lads brought their live set to the sold-out Troubadour in Los Angeles, where people were still buzzing from a post-Grammys high. 

Outside the venue, the band maintains anonymity, but you wouldn’t know that walking into the Troubadour. Before the show started, even the guitar tech Larry (who is lead singer Van’s childhood friend) walked onto the stage to immediate and loud cheers. Needless to say, people were excited. 

Around 9 o’clock, Catfish and the Bottlemen (Van McCann, Johnny “Bondy” Bond, Benji Blakeway, and Bob Hall) exploded onto the stage and championed through their entire debut with unrelenting energy.

Van began the gig hunched over with his guitar in mid-stage, bobbing his head up and down to the mild percussion beating in the background. This calm moment quickly ended when he and the band transitioned into “Rango.” They followed up with “Pacifier,” a garage rock single filled with infectious guitar riffs reminiscent of Kings Of Leon, and “Sidewinder,” another album track filled with guitar bends and heavy drums. 

READ MORE: 'The Balcony' By Catfish And The Bottlemen: Album Review

Van McCann and Bondy (Joyce Jude Lee/Neon Tommy)
Van McCann and Bondy (Joyce Jude Lee/Neon Tommy)
The trio of tracks following the opening bit were equally impressive and hard hitting. “Fallout,” “26” and “Business” are all tracks about love and lost love, themes commonly laced in the band’s songs. “Kathleen,” the band’s first radio single in America, follows the themes of life and romance, but features Van’s heavily growly voice—one that's almost like that of The Strokes’ Julian Casablancas. Full speed ahead, Van howled onto the next track, “Homesick,” to unanimous audience participation. When the band members left Van to sing the last verse of the song guitar-a cappella, the audience sang back so loud that it drowned out Van’s vocals. 

Between songs, the energy only increased in the room. At one point, a “Larry! Larry!" chant started for the roadie when Van introduced him on stage. Surprised at the overwhelming reception, Van repeatedly thanked the audience, stating how “class” everyone was for being so welcoming to the band.

"Hourglass" (Joyce Jude Lee/Neon Tommy)
"Hourglass" (Joyce Jude Lee/Neon Tommy)
Before the band rejoined Van for the encore, the pace slowed with the performance of the only acoustic track on the album, titled “Hourglass.” This refresher was different from the band's usual catalog, but it allowed people to catch their breaths before the encore.

Catfish and The Bottlemen rounded off the set with “Cocoon” and “Tyrants,” the former of which was heavily backed by Zane Lowe, a resident BBC Radio DJ known to have launched many successful careers. This two song encore was wild. “Cocoon” incited frenzy with lyrics that sound best when shouted (“F*ck it if they talk! F*ck it if they try and get to us, cause I’d rather go blind than let you down.”) The closer, “Tyrants,” featured a dragged out a minute long jam session that testified the band’s passion for gigging. Crashing the stage left and right and sliding his guitar up and down the mic, a sweaty Van McCan ended the night on a high and left the audience wanting more.

Looking around the room, one could feel the imminent success the Welsh rockers are about to experience. Catfish and The Bottlemen have been compared to The Strokes, Kings of Leon, Arctic Monkeys and more, but they have the presence, personalities and talent to go beyond what these bands have achieved. They won't be "nobodies" for long. 

Reach Music Editor Joyce Jude Lee here.



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