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Catfish and the Bottlemen @ Milkboy with Wild Party.

March 10, 2015

CatfishBottlemen04Text and images by Brendan Menapace. Other images by Michele Straka.

It’s interesting to see the development of a young band firsthand. The radio stations pay them attention, the entourage grows and suddenly there’s a line of kids down the block waiting in below-freezing temperatures to hear the music.

Wales-based Catfish and the Bottlemen have been building momentum across the Atlantic but there’s certainly a buzz about them stateside as well, as their sold out show at Milkboy on Friday showed.

The show started with San Antonio’s Wild Party, a poppy brand of indie rock that fit in nicely with the headliner.

The band built a nice rapport with one fan in particular, who took it upon himself to hurl movie quotes toward the stage, which the vocalist and guitarist took with laughs, albeit confused ones. The singer looked especially confused when the anonymous fan told him he had a “purdy mouth.”

“Thanks man,” he responded. “I can’t see you, but I’m gonna guess you have a nice mouth too.”

After Wild Party finished and unloaded their gear from the stage (and almost causing a bass drum case to come crashing into the soundboard), a handful of sound guys, all in black and with distinct British accents, made their way to the front. One man in particular, who shooed fans away from the soundboard and took up residence for the show at the base of the stage, looked like a record executive from a movie.

After an introduction from Radio 104.5’s Wendy Rollins (a good indicator of the band’s growing audience) a flashlight-wielding crew member lead the four members of Catfish and the Bottlemen, all young with hair shagging in their eyes to the stage. Under the harsh red lights, it got loud. They opened with “Rango,” one of the louder tracks from their debut album The Balcony. The sold-out Milkboy crowd cheered excitedly. It was a major step up from the last time they played Milkboy last October. While there was a crowd, it was hardly the wall-to-wall packed house that it was on this Friday night.

With only one album out, it wasn’t too hard to guess the material that would be played live, but they did mix things up to make sure it wasn’t in the order of the album. They drove straight into other distortion-heavy tracks such as “Sidewinder” and “Fallout” without taking much time to talk. Lead vocalist Van McCann took time to express his gratitude to the fans. With his thick accent he “fenked” the fans for making it out to see the group.

The group didn’t take much time to talk, and instead drove through a lengthy, while cutouts of Ewan McGregor’s face taped to the amps looked on excitedly, as his fellow Brits spread their audience to the United States. It’s safe to say that the next time Catfish and the Bottlemen make it back to Philadelphia, it will be at a bigger venue.

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