Live Review: Catfish and the Bottlemen with Phantomweight at DC9, Washington DC – 2nd October 2014

By on Monday, 6th October 2014 at 2:00 pm

In less than a month of its release, ‘The Balcony’, Catfish and the Bottlemen‘s debut for Communion / Island Records, has done very well, cracking the top ten of the UK albums chart, and their November and December 2014 UK tour has long since sold out, with their newly announced March and April 2015 tour, which just went on sale last week, soon to follow suit. Yet over here in America, they are nowhere near a household name. It is no mean feat for any band to get punters to their show if their first album isn’t even available in their country yet, and it’s that reasoning that makes the turnout for the Welsh band’s first true headline show in Washington all the more remarkable. Even frontman Van McCann seemed overwhelmed by the clearly passionate fans down the front at their DC9 show last Thursday night:

But before describing Catfish’s set further, I’ll touch on the support band’s performance briefly. Because of the presence of a strong horn section (tenor sax and trombone, to be exact), local band Phantomweight (knock it off with the bad ghost jokes) probably gets their (un)fair share of comparisons to the last American band with a horn section to have made it mainstream, Boston ska band The Mighty Mighty Bosstones. While the horn section is prominent, the band seem to have their toes dipped into the pop, funk and jazz pools, which makes them a more interesting proposition than the usual DC acts that precede more famous out of town groups. Their singer Ben also seems like a pretty funny guy, making fun of the headliner (hey, when take your opportunities when you can, right?):

Earlier in the day, Catfish and the Bottlemen played an intimate set sponsored by Washington rock DC101, following in the footsteps of other British acts Biffy Clyro and Royal Blood. If the recent trajectory of those bands is a good predictor, then Catfish are well on their way to joining them atop festival bills next year. I spoke to McCann about this after the show, and he seemed far too humble to accept that stardom in the near future would be a given. But given what I witnessed at DC9, I don’t see how there could be any other possible outcome. Fans were raucous and eager to show how big of fans they were of the band, with some girls in squealing mode and near tears once the show was over.

A lot of the audience already knew all the words to their songs, which made McCann quick to quip that they must have all gotten their copies of ‘The Balcony’ by unsavoury means; he said the album would not be released in America until 2015. The boy and girl in front of me were as quick to respond that they had ordered their copies online before their U.S. tour began, and they’re been at the preceding New York and Philadelphia shows and would be following them up to Boston the next night. I think most of you are aware of just how massive America is, so having fans this devoted, willing to drive up and down the coast with little care about their jobs, and so early in the game is an incredibly good indicator of the mass hysteria I expect to surround this band swiftly. McCann also noted that earlier in the week in New York, they ran into Ewan McGregor, who probably is at this point in their career their most famous fan; a sticker of McGregor’s face is now proudly affixed to their bass drum.

As indicated in his review of their debut album, Martin points out that ‘The Balcony’ is punctuated with songs with “the power to do is put a big, fat grin on one’s face for half an hour or so, particularly if they’re played loud”. ‘Cocoon’, the band’s most recent single, is the sound of youth, of devil-may-care innocent minds, while ‘Kathleen’ apparently has already captured the imagination of youths. ‘Homesick’ slowed down the proceedings slightly and provided the most tenderest moment of the night, but overall, it’s evident that the Catfish and the Bottlemen sound is one that is loud, brash and most importantly, fun. This train to success has just begun a-rolling. Don’t blink. You’ll want to catch it and be on it before it’s too late.

After the cut: Catfish and the Bottlemen’s set list.

Catfish and the Bottlemen’s Set List:

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[…] Coast tour at DC9 Thursday night. Having followed in the footsteps of The 1975, Royal Blood and Catfish and the Bottlemen, one can’t help but think this is merely the start for the Yorkshire band over here. Opening the […]

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