New Jersey based group The Front Bottoms (TFB) and Aussie rockers The Smith Street Band have spent a lot of time touring together. Following the release of TFB’s new album, Going Grey, they headed over to tour the UK and Europe. The final stop of the tour is at London’s Roundhouse.
Despite the blizzard conditions, the fans are out in full force. The Smith Street Band have a dedicated fanbase in the UK – partly made up of Australian expats cursing the freezing weather…
Before the Smith Street band took to the stage, indie rock duo Brick + Mortar played. They were certainly fun to watch and got the crowd excited for what was to come.
The Smith Street Band’s lead singer, Wil Wagner, popped on stage briefly before his set and received lots of positive attention from the crowd. He quickly bounced back with fellow band members Lee Hartney (lead guitar, vocals), Matt Bodiam (drums, vocals) and Michael “Fitzy” Fitzgerald (bass guitar, vocals).
It is immediately apparent that Wil is happy and comfortable on stage. His smile is infectious. This might have been in part due to the fact he’s playing in front of a huge image of a naked man and woman (Context – this is the Going Grey album artwork).
The set kicked off with two tracks from the group’s latest album, 'More Scared of You Than You Are of Me’ – ‘Death to the Lads’ followed by ‘Passiona’.
Older songs are also well received, particularly ‘Young Drunk’. The nine-track setlist closed with the explosive ‘Throw Me in the River’ – Wagner explains that the inspiration of the song came from him walking by the Thames after a particularly painful breakup.
The Smith Street Band certainly wear their hearts on their sleeves. They are heading back this month to their native Australia for a mammoth tour – if you’re in the country try to check them out. Otherwise, they’ll be back in the UK in October.
After a quick breather/chance to get a pint, The Front Bottoms took to the stage. The band consists of Brian Sella (vocals, guitar), Mat Uychich (drums), and Tom Warren (guitar, vocals).
While Going Grey has received mixed reviews, TFB confidently start the set with the album’s first single ‘You Used to Say (Holy Fuck)’.
A mix of old and new tracks follow, but it’s clearly the older songs that get the crowd most excited. Sella’s distinctive, nasal vocal style shouldn’t work, but when paired with his raw lyrics it just does.
Particular favourites are ‘Tattooed Tears’ and ‘The Beers’, before the set ends with ‘Twin Size Mattress’ with its quotable lyrics: ‘With tears in my eyes, I begged you to stay/ You said “Hey man, I love you, but no fucking way.”’
For the encore, TFB choose two songs from their first EP, ‘I Hate My Friends’, before finishing up with ‘Ocean’ from the new album.
Overall, TFB put on a good show. It’s hard for a band which became popular thanks to its unsigned, unpolished charm to maintain this once signed to a major record label. But through a combination of classic singles and friendly stage presence, The Front Bottoms are successful on Wednesday night.