Front Bottoms at Worcester Palladium, 10/23/21

“Holy fuck, I’m about to die,” I sang with the Front Bottoms, who had somehow picked the perfect opening song to encapsulate my feelings. I stood in the photo pit, petrified that this rabid crowd would break the barriers and storm the stage like in a zombie movie. I have been to many concerts, so believe me when I say I did not think that the grating vocals of Brian Sella would soundtrack my untimely demise. But don’t get me wrong—I loved every fucking minute of it. 

Despite listening to the Front Bottoms for the better part of a decade, I still had no idea what to expect from a live show, and I’m not entirely sure the band knew what to expect either. Even after so many years performing, the band still boasted the goofy excitement and energy of a gang of teenagers, mystified that their work could draw in such a crowd. Bewilderment aside, the Front Bottoms knew what they were doing. Frontman Brian Sella walked up to the stage with an acoustic guitar and seemingly all the knowledge in the world. The show was paradoxical in every way—members of the crowd screaming and jumping over each other while the band sang their harmonies with all the calm of a violinist on the Titanic. It was terrifying to participate in but wholly entertaining to watch. 

The band played “camouflage,” a single off their newest album, In Sickness and in Flames. Of course, this song is quintessential Front Bottoms—a scream-sung folk punk tune with oddly specific lyrics. But hearing it live was anthemic in a way I had not expected. That was the unexpected appeal of this show—a string of gritty emo songs sung like gospel and worshipped as such. The songs “Flashlight,” “Tie Dye Dragon,” and “Cough It Out” had similarly hypnotizing effects on the audience. 

Towards the end of their set, the band played “Twin Size Mattress,” which is arguably their most popular song and my personal all-time favorite. Despite being surrounded by hundreds of sweaty people screaming the lyrics and the music pumping through my ears, I felt like I wanted to go even deeper. I wanted to crawl into the song and take permanent residence there. I wanted the music to play so loud that my head shattered into tiny little pieces, fusing bits of me with bits of itself. 

After an impressively long eighteen-song set, the Front Bottoms came back for a four-song encore consisting entirely of audience-requested songs. The band played their newest single, “Lover Boy,” which boasts a more tender and harmonious sound than the audience is used to. They closed out the encore with “leaf pile,” off In Sickness and in Flames. The audience bounced around the floor, buzzing with excitement and chanting “I wanna be that person again.” Even after a 22-song marathon, it was clear the audience would have stayed dancing till sunrise if it meant hearing more from the Front Bottoms. Despite not performing for almost two years, the Front Bottoms made their first post-pandemic tour their most memorable yet. 

Tickets for upcoming Front Bottoms shows can be found here.

Check out our interview with the Front Bottoms here.

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