The Front Bottoms has always found a way to capture the often dull and heartbreaking moments of growing up in a way that sounds like blunt poetry. They are the kind of band you grow up listening to and can feel them growing up alongside you. They are the kind of band that, when they make a major change compared their past work, it feels like your friend you’ve known since diapers has had a sudden, unexpected change in character.
At least that’s how I felt with release of The Front Bottoms’ new album Going Grey, a collection of songs that stick fairly close to their well-known, off-kilter lyricism but with heavy production and synth incorporated. Given this adaption to their sound, I began to worry that I might have to renounce my status as a Front Bottoms fan.
Thankfully, seeing them live reaffirmed my loyalty.
I got to see the band at The Complex as they were passing through on their fall tour with Basement and Bad Bad Hats. Their setup accommodated the contrasting sound of this new album without succumbing completely to its intense production. Along with the traditional band setup (Mathew Uychich on drums, Brian Sella on guitar and vocals, Tom Warren on bass), The Front Bottoms was also accompanied by a synth player as well as a violinist/cellist/trumpet player that provided the full-band effect the group has had in past releases. This big band lineup also gave a more real, authentic feel to newer, more synth heavy songs like “Trampoline” and “Bae.”
The energy during the entire set was undeniable and somehow comforting. The Front Bottoms has that kind of effect on people. They could play the “ABCs” and still give it a communal kind of dynamic that everyone would find pleasure in partaking in. From frontman Sella letting the audience sing verses on his behalf during classics like “The Beers” to Sella and the crowd respectively flipping each other off during “Peace Sign,” there was a shared sense of understanding underlying every aggressive and angsty lyric.