The Front Bottoms played an amazing show at Sokol Auditorium Wednesday night! The crowd of mostly 20somethings went absolutely wild singing and dancing along to every word front man Brian Sella sang. Playing for almost two hours, the band covered three different sets of material!
Before The Front Bottoms took the stage Kevin Devine (who later played bass for The Front Bottoms sets) played an acoustic set. He had a great vocal range often throwing his voice by stepping back from the microphone and shouting from the top of his lungs. The venue was about half full, so at one point when he stepped out to the front of the stage without a mic you could still clearly hear every word.
Some of his tunes were a little political, referencing war and term-oil throughout the world, but overall his set felt very light and fun. I loved the fact that he was up there solo but still had a full sound by improvising slaps on the guitar or stomping on the floor. The highlight of the set for me was “Little Bulldozer” a bouncy song about the pressures of growing up and feeling alone.
Kevin mentioned playing Sokol underground back in 2003 and then later playing the upstairs in 2014 with Manchester Orchestra. He also told the story of how he met The Front Bottoms at a show in NY in 2011. He was meeting his mom at the show and as he was walking towards the balcony he heard The Front Bottoms playing “The Beers” and stopped dead in his tracks. He turned around and listened to the rest of the song before continuing to the balcony to meet up with his mom. Six months later he was on tour with The Front Bottoms and they’ve been playing together for the past six years.
Before Kevin’s last song he asked the crowd if they minded if he played one more song. Of course, someone shouted “Freebird!” Kevin joked that the Freebird guy has been to every show that’s ever been played since the song was released. The crowd had a good laugh and Kevin even played the first line before stopping and saying, “That’s all I know!”.
During Kevin’s set I noticed two girls in front were singing along to every word and just having a blast. After the set, I asked if they had seen Kevin or the Front Bottoms before. Katie and Lexie said they had seen The Front Bottoms so many times they’ve lost count! I said, “That’s awesome!”. They said they caught the show the night before in Tulsa and came to the show in Omaha by way of Kansas where they’re from. They also said that they were at the show Kevin mentioned when he had first heard The Front Bottoms! These girls were the true O.G. Front Bottoms fans in the building. I asked what was the farthest they had ever travel led to see TFB before and they said they drove 14 hours from Kansas to Vermont once to see them. That’s true dedication!
I made my way toward the center of the stage as the crew was setting up all the gear and props. I think this is the first show I’ve ever seen where a band made the stage look like the inside of a living room. With a sofa, end tables, picture frames, and lamps it was like a time capsule back to the 1970s. It made for a really interesting backdrop throughout the band’s first set.
The Front Bottoms took the stage and the crowd erupted in joyous cheers. Playing several hits from their “Rose” E.P. the band got the floor bouncing early. I’m a bit of a new fan, so I didn’t immediately recognize many of the songs in the first set. But judging by the kids around me belting out all of the lyrics I’m pretty sure the Rose E.P. did ok for the band.
After the Rose E.P. set TFB moved right into the “Ann” E.P. Now this album I could get down to. I had been listening to Ann over and over for the past week and I absolutely love it. It’s jangly pop sounds are so infectious you won’t want to put it down. The highlights for me were “Today is Not Real” and “I think Your Nose is Bleeding”. Both songs had wicked synth parts that brought the house down! It was during this set that I saw a small mosh pit starting to break out. I was feeling pretty comfortable being one of the oldest people in the crowd so I decided to bounce over and see if I could stir up a circle pit. I pushed out to try and get the pit opened up but everyone around me shrieked and started to clam up. It was one of the saddest circle pits ever, lasting only 20 seconds or so. R.I.P Circle Pit!
After the Ann set the band took a short break and the stage crew swapped out the backdrop to reveal the cover art from “Going Grey” the band’s 2017 release. Brian stepped out in a freshly changed polo shirt. I should mention before the set change Brian and a few of his band mates were wearing Omaha shirts and the violinist/tambourine player was wearing a Cursive shirt! Way to represent the Big O! After the Ann set it dawned on me that The Front Bottoms actually remind me of Cursive a bit and Brian almost looks like a young Tim Kasher! Granted TFB songs are a bit more pop sounding, there’s just something about the combination of Brian’s vocals mixed with the crashing drums and violin that really brought back memories of early Cursive shows. Who knows, maybe it was just seeing that Cursive gorilla shirt that I used to have that jogged my memory.
The third set played out much like the first two with the band playing hit after hit and the crowd just eating it up. I looked around and saw so many people just losing their minds. Lots of groups of friends, couples, and even a small family were getting down to the poppy heartfelt rhythms. During “Vacation Town” someone threw a pair of panties on stage and singer Brian said “I knew Omaha was gonna get freaky”. One of the highlights of the Going Grey set for me was Brian saying
“This song is about… It’s made up, it’s all made up”
You could tell the band was having as good of a time as the crowd. Brian mentioned over and over “Omaha, Friday night!” i.e. we’re gonna party like it’s Friday on a Wednesday.
After one more short break the band came back for three more songs. Song one, “West Virginia” had the crowd going insane! I saw several girls crowd surfing and bouncing back and forth.
Song two “The Beers” was a great summer tune! “And I will remember that summer as the summer I was taking steroids, because you like a man with muscles and I like you.”
The final song of the night “Twin Size Mattress” was absolute pandemonium! A lot of people rushed to the stage to get as close as they could to jump and sing to the closing notes.
It was during this song that I experienced something truly magical. A couple a few feet in front of me was singing to each other so intensely by the end of the song they both had tears. It was so beautiful it gave me chills. It will never be captured on an iPhone or Samsung, it will live in my mind and the minds of the few people around me had they been watching closely. This is the reason I go to shows, for these incredibly special moments. To quote my hero Jamey Jasta from Hatbreed:
“I live for this!”
Huge shout out to Corey from 89.7 The River for letting me tag along as his plus one. Please check out his show’s Facebook page or visit The River’s website!
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