Catfish and the Bottlemen at The Troubadour, Los Angeles, CA | Under the Radar - Music Magazine
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Catfish and the Bottlemen

Catfish and the Bottlemen at The Troubadour, Los Angeles, CA, February 9th, 2015

Feb 24, 2015 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share

Rock 'n' roll never changes. There will always be four super skinny guys who favor form fitting black clothes, who have cool haircuts, and who look like they were born to thrash guitars about on stage. And The Troubadour, one of the most iconic rock venues on the planet, has hosted them all. The actual building gives off the feeling of bored disinterest, not noticing the band giddy with excitement at playing its hallowed room. The band in question is Catfish and the Bottlemen, the latest in high buzz bands shipped over from the U.K. You know the type, the ones that get sent on cool British rock star conveyor belts. The type that has another one following it, just a few feet behind, ready to replace it.

For tonight, however, the fresh-faced, innocent looking, eager crowd, no other band exists. Standing room only, this audience is well versed in the Bottlemen's very recently released debut album, The Balcony. Walking on stage to the strains of OutKast's "Roses," the Bottlemen look just the part: requisite all black "uniform," gravity defying hair that would be well served with a hot oil treatment, dripping with charisma, endearingly youthful, and even more eager than their clamoring fans.

The Bottlemen start with "Rango," one of the more restrained numbers from The Balcony. Not that the performance is at all restrained, just the opposite, with all the head banging one worries about a sore neck for these boys, particularly as this is only the second night of a five-week-long North American tour. They choose to move forward with another controlled track, "Pacifier," which only gets going at the chorus. By now, the Bottlemen are more comfortable and so very grateful. Vocalist/guitarist Van McCann repeatedly expresses their gratitude many times and with such heartfelt emotion, you start feeling like maybe you are doing them a favor.

This kind of appreciation from the group, voiced by McCann is threaded through the next few tracks: "Sidewinder," "Fallout," "26," "Business," and the standout angry love song, "Kathleen." The band becomes increasingly more at ease with each one. There's almost camaraderie between the Bottlemen and the audience with them recognizing some of the more diehard members in the crowd and having a whole group conversation with the room. Overseeing all of this is Ewan McGregor's maniacally smiling cut-out head, which is plastered onto all the amps. If you were a real Bottlefan you would know that McGregor is their most vocal high profile supporter. Speaking of high-ish profile supporters, London Grammar's Dot Major is in attendance, in the actual flesh.

By the time the Bottlemen reach the three quarter mark on "Homesick," the other members leave the stage, allowing McCann to really shine as he emotes all over the line "I'm only looking out for you." McCann performs the next track, "Hourglass," acoustically and on his own. Except he isn't on his own, as the crowd are in full accompaniment, so gently and with so much reverence, they carry McCann's voice on top of their own.

The band returns for the last two numbers: "Cocoon" and "Tyrants," where at one point McCann is forehead-to-forehead with bassist Benji Blakeway, which is possibly the second best part of the whole gig, closely following the aforementioned audience harmonies. This is the end of the night for the Bottlemen, who, with only one album, are not so silly as to keep the room hanging for an encore.

Where The Balcony is frontloaded with the Bottlemen's best songs, the Troubadour show is backloaded with their best performances. Memories are short and the strong finish is what people will walk away with-until the next stovepipe jeans-clad British-accented group, that is.

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