From New Jersey to Manchester: The Front Bottoms return to Manchester

Since 2006; The Front Bottoms have been an outlet for frontman’s Brian Sella’s evocative songwriting and characteristic vocals. On a cold and dark Wednesday night, they parked their tour bus outside Manchester Academy, marking their first visit to the UK since 2018. 

As a devoted fan, the anticipation was through the roof. From the moment the band took to the stage, the energy in the room spiked and never touched the ground. Kicking off proceedings, The Front Bottoms started the show with “West Virginia”, from their 2015 album “Back On Top”, from this song alone, we knew we were in for a very special night. Throughout the rest of the show, the setlist was a perfect blend of old and new.

Tracks from their latest album; “You Are Who You Hang Out With” complimented older material which created an exquisite mixture of nostalgia for the fans whilst giving their set a refreshing experience for fans who have awaited their return. As the band pushed their way through their set, we were treated to deeper cuts such as“12 Feet Deep” and “Lonely Eyes” from EP’s “Ann” and “Rose”, showing just how impressive their ever growing discography of hits is, even more so when you heard the entire crowd hanging on to every word. It’s almost hard to pick a favourite moment of the night as we were spoiled by what was on show. 

Classics such as “Twin Size Mattress’ ‘, “Cough It Out” and “Wolfman ” were doled out throughout the night, much to the gratitude of the crowd of die-hard fans squeezed into Manchester Academy. Each one building the excitement, the energy and the joy on the faces of those that populated the crowd. There were many moments during the show where Sella would have his bandmates cut their instruments and the group would leave it to the crowd to passionately sing their lyrics back to them, creating a wonderfully intimate atmosphere between those on stage and the sweating masses that were before them. 

The Front Bottoms had curated a truly wonderful setlist, particularly when it came to audience participation. Sella even found time to take song requests throughout the show which was even more impressive that they could veer from the structured show for a moment of improvisation. The band really took their music up-a-notch in the venue; their studio version pale in comparison to the raw emotion and energy captured in their live show. Before The Front Bottoms took the stage, the three-piece band Vundabar set the tone for the evening. They delivered an impressive performance that seamlessly complemented the headlining band’s energy. With infectious rhythms and compelling stage presence, Vundabar proved to be more than just a warm-up act, carving out their own space on the stage and leaving a lasting impression.

The Front Bottoms were everything fans could have asked for and then some. Almost two decades into their career, they wear their veteran status on their sleeve, while continuing to innovate and push the envelope in their scene. The product of Brian Sella and Mat Uychich, the band has seen their sound grow and evolve over the course of six studio albums. Between their debut in 2011 and their latest in 2023, the duo have developed tremendously, and their live shows have followed suit. 

As a massive fan of The Front Bottoms, I say this with complete and utter bias; I loved this show. TFB continue to excite with their live performances and continue to prove that they have not past their prime, but are cruising into it. This group has been a beloved band of mine for over 10 years; so to see them live again and to shout those lyrics at the top of my lungs was a kind of catharsis that I will probably spend the rest of my life looking for. If you go and see The Front Bottoms live, expect a night you will not forget any time soon.

Words and Photos by Ellie Dawson 


Philip Goddard

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