Review: The Front Bottoms, Fake Problems, Kevin Devine and the Goddamn Band, and Say Anything @ The Showbox 3/27
With doors for the show opening earlier than most (6pm) and so many openers, it would have been easy to miss the first few bands. However if you missed the first opener, New Jersey’s The Front Bottoms, you missed one of the best new acts I’ve seen this year. The boys came to the stage wearing dresses for no apparent reason other than to add humor to their already high energy performance. They play music perfectly designed for the sort of audience present at the Showbox on Thursday- every song was upbeat in terms of tempo and about subjects so easy to connect with as a young person: drinking with your friends, college classes, falling in love, relationships in the process of falling apart, and the journey that is finding your place in the world.
While they may have been wearing dresses on stage and obviously don’t take themselves too seriously, their lyrics are impossibly well written and demonstrate a level of thoughtfulness that you may not first expect from this group of guys in their early 20s. Lead singer/guitarist Brian SellaÂ had the crowd eating out of the palm of his hands while singing the chorus for ‘Swimming Pool’ when he belted “But I’m a creature of a culture that I create/Â I’m the last one on the dance floor/Â As the chandelier gives way/Â And I am permanently/Â Preoccupied with your past/Â I’ve been around long enough now/Â To know that the good things never last/They never last.” What makes them different than other pop-punk bands out there is the combination of the incredible lyrics in every one of their songs, Sella’s unique voice, and the intensity that drummer/bullhorn playerÂ Mathew UychichÂ exerts. These guys are anything butÂ averageÂ and have earned tons of praise from the bands they’re touring with. A highlight of the night was during ‘The Beers’ when the boys were joined on stage by Kevin Devine and his drummer- taking a song about partying and creating a party on the stage. These guys from Jersey started the night on the right note, and had me on the edge of my seat for who else would be opening for Say Anything.
The next Â band on the bill wasÂ Fake Problems– a Florida band specializing in what they deem “Beach Punk.” Having never heard of this genre before, I have to say that they hit the nail on the head by labeling themselves such. Their set was largely pretty chilled out and sort of uneventful. The best part of their set was their sole fast paced tune- the crowd was feeling restless and that helped them get more into Fake Problems. Their music wasn’t by any means bad, it was just not quite right to follow the party atmosphere that The Front Bottoms had helped to create or to lead into a band like Say Anything. Lyrically they had some total gems and lead singer/guitarist Chris Farren was great at working the crowd, but they in the future I hope they bring more energy and liven up their set a bit.
I’ve been hearing about Keven Devine since his 2009 release Brother’s Blood but hadn’t seen him live yet until Thursday night’s show. Backed with the Goddamn Band, his music sounds dirtier, rougher- a little more tinged with grunge rock, which was an unexpected and welcomed surprise to this Seattlite. Their set was mostly pulled from Devine’s most recent album, Between the Concrete and Clouds, and was a combination of songs that got the crowd moving and others that were more intimate and revealing. Slower material didn’t go over with the crowd well for Fake Problems, but for Devine and the Goddamn Band they kept their sound lively enough and really were able to showcase Devine’s lyrics fully so that the crowd’s attention neverÂ waned. Their last song, ‘Cotton Crush,’ found them being joined by The Front Bottoms and Devine melded bits of ‘The Beers’ lyrics into his own. Devine and his band worked well together as a band- they had greatÂ chemistryÂ and Devine really owned the crowd with all the banter he provided. They played a well put together and performed set, and were a great lead in to Say Anything.
I’m not really sure how to explain about how incredible Say Anything‘s performance was; it was one of those great live music moments that you almost have to be there for. If you’re familiar with the band, you know they’ve been touring for almost a decade and consistently put on one hell of a performance, mostly as a result of their lead singerÂ Max Bemis seemingly having Redbull and fire running through his veins. The set started with ‘Spider Song’ and instantly I knew this show was going to be a rare one. Throughout each and every song, from old favorites likeÂ ‘Belt,’ ‘Shiksa,’ and ‘Every Man Has a Molly’ to the material off their brand new record Anarchy, My Dear like ‘Burn a Miracle’ and ‘Say Anything,’ the audience new literally every single word of every single song. At moments it was easier to hear the people to my left than Bemis, and I mean that in a good way. The audience was simply going nuts over the band, and the feeling seemed to be mutual with Bemis and hisÂ band matesÂ continuously telling the packed house how blown away they were by their Seattle fans.
Leaving the Showbox after the encore (‘Admit it!!!’ and ‘Admit It Again’), I couldn’t believe how many great performances I had seen. Each band brought somethingÂ similarÂ to the table in terms of high quality, and it was a great reminder that punkÂ infusedÂ with a touch of pop is still very adored by Seattle music fans.