The Front Bottoms and Manchester Orchestra brought their co-headlining show to the Fillmore for back-to-back shows in December, which featured the perfect combination of throwbacks and newer concoctions from both bands.
On the second night, Dec. 13, the Front Bottoms opened with their folk-punk anthems. The band, which originated in New Jersey, has come a long way since their formation over 12 years ago, and this tour verified how they have expanded their unique signature sound in a way that is still perfectly recognizable.
A wild bunch of sweaty fans impatiently awaited, cheering for the Front Bottoms, so it was a sweet release when frontman Brian Sella finally strutted onto stage followed by drummer Mat Uychich and guitarist Tom Warren. Sella’s booming voice momentarily put everyone in the audience into a trance, and though he announced that he wasn’t feeling particularly well, he concealed this notion with his energetic buoyancy throughout the sixteen-song setlist.
As the band opened with “Au Revoir (Adios),” the excited audience immediately began singing along word by word, almost robotically. Sella sunk down, tightly grasping the microphone with each verse, as he passionately belted the humorously catchy lyrics.
Though diehard fans within audience catcalled, batted their eyelashes and even confessed their love for Sella through cackled screams, he remained impressively focused and seamlessly transitioned into “West Virginia,” which also evoked excited shrieks and prompted another lively sing-along. The excitement continued to build up, especially as the band performed their newer songs like “Vacation Town” and “Peace Sign” from their 2017 album “Going Grey” and their latest single “End of Summer (now I know.)”
But the most enthusiasm broke out during the beloved inaugural classics from their 2011 self-titled debut album, including “Flashlight,” “Maps” and especially “The Beers” — the most emblematic tunes for any seasoned fan.
The band predictably ended with their top hit “Twin Size Mattress” and everyone in the audience seemed to know every word, jumping and moshing to the alluring guitar riffs and Uychich’s rigorous tambourine-shaking.
And members on stage seemed to be having just as good a time — maybe even more fun. There was a bar on stage where members of the touring bands sat and enjoyed drinks for an up-close view of the show. The stage was already packed as it was since The Front Bottoms have beefed up their backing members in support of their newer, more complex work with a full-time keyboardist, bassist, trumpeter and even a second drummer.
The band’s sound continues to elevate and each new song grows more interestingly intricate and yet, their core values have persisted over the years and they have not succumbed to mainstream expectations and redundancies.
I was blown away by their performance and by their overall growth as a band, but I saw my own admiration for the band reflected in Sella’s approbation of the next band: Manchester Orchestra.
Sella proudly announced, “My favorite band is coming up next,” setting the expectations high.
Sure enough, the indie rock band, composed of singer Andy Hull, lead guitarist Robert McDowell, bassist Andy Prince and drummer Tim Very, crushed it, pulling off a mysterious opening for the song “The Maze”. The members rocked in the darkness with only occasional beams of white light delicately streaming down on them, prudently drawing the audience members in.
The lighting remained predominantly dark as they cranked out other songs like “The Moth” and “The Alien” — both off their most recent album “A Black Mild To The Surface” — but it transformed into more fittingly warm colors during the song “The Sunshine,” which is another hit from the 2017 album.
The band also pulled out some older classics like “I Can Barely Breathe” from their 2007 album, “I’m Like a Virgin Losing a Child” and “Shake It Out” from their 2009 album, “Mean Everything to Nothing” and like with The Front Bottoms, the crowd seemed to react more to these older hits.
Overall, the vibe was noticeably different during this part of the show. The moshing came to a halt, there were far less screams and the in-sync sing-alongs faded, but nonetheless, gratified smiles endured. The atmosphere may have changed but the music was still stellar in a more placified way.
Fans couldn’t get enough of the band and even insisted on an encore, which Manchester Orchestra satisfied with “I Know How to Speak,” “The Gold” and “The Silence.”
The only disappointment of the night was that neither band performed their recent collaborative single “Allentown,” despite endless requests from audience members throughout the night.
Regardless, the rest of their sets were still perfectly assembled and executed, giving audience members a night to truly remember.