Concert Recap: The Front Bottoms, You Blew It!, Valencourt

One thing I’ve learned since I saw them for the first time in July and then again in November is that The Front Bottoms put on a really fucking good show. On Saturday, Feb. 1, I saw them for the third time in less than a year, and it was the most incredible and intense experience I’ve had at one of their shows. That’s saying something, given how hard their fans go — especially in Rhode Island, which for whatever reason, has kids that go harder than any others I’ve seen. (Must be something in the water.)

The show was at The Met in Pawtucket, RI, a venue that’s on par for intimacy with Paradise Rock Club (though really, it’s even smaller, especially since it’s only one floor and there isn’t even an entryway before the actual venue space — the doors just open right onto the floor). AR saw Transit there in December with their younger brother, and I’ve been looking forward to seeing The Front Bottoms there since AR told me how small the venue is.

This concert has been at the top of my List of Things to Look Forward To for months. And it was even better than I ever could have hoped or dreamed. Brian Sella and Matt Uychich come out before the show to give us hot chocolate (appropriate, given that it was the last night of The Hot Chocolate Tour) and hang out for a few minutes, despite the cold. And when I asked him to write out one of his lyrics for me to get tattooed (“I wanna be stronger than your dad was for your mom”), Sella gave me a rather dubious look but then promised he’d write it out and bring me back the paper.

He returned shortly before doors opened with a torn piece of paper displaying three versions of the lyric, warned me that his handwriting is awful, and told me to think about it before he went back inside. I didn’t get a chance to tell Sella exactly why I want the lyric, or what it means to me, or how it felt the first time I heard it and every time I’ve heard it since. I’m hopeful that the next time we see The Front Bottoms, I’ll have the tattoo and can talk to him about it then.

AR and I snagged spots right up against the stage for the show itself — the stage was low, and pressed right against my upper thighs when the crowd started to lose it during You Blew It!, one of the opening bands. My entire body aches from being at the front of that pit, getting kicked in the head repeatedly by crowd-surfers and stage-divers, and throwing myself into the music just as hard as everyone around me. My throat still feels raw from screaming the lyrics and until I showered this morning, I felt dead. To be honest, I still feel like a bit of a zombie. The Front Bottoms’ fans always go incredibly hard and it’s been a while since I’ve been at the front of a pit and stayed there. In fact, the last time was at my first TFB show in July. If possible, the crowd at The Met went even harder than the crowd at The Sinclair — I think the intimacy of the space was both a blessing and a curse, in that respect.

Being jostled by the crowd made all of my photos blurry, but The Front Bottoms nailed it.

The band played a really solid mixture of songs from the self-titled album and its newest release, Talon of the Hawk (2013), as well as “Twelve Feet Deep” from one of its earlier albums. You Blew It! made continuous appearances on stage to fuck with The Front Bottoms, since it was the last night on tour. They sang happy birthday to each member of the band, shoved cupcakes in their faces, came on stage dressed as robots… The lead singer of You Blew It! even appeared in a “wrestling outfit” to challenge Sella, who’d declared he wanted to become a wrestler named The Schwing, and the two “battled” on stage. At the end of the night, when The Front Bottoms played “Twin Size Mattress”, You Blew It! set up its instruments on stage, and helped play the latter half of the song.

The night ended just as well as it started — by the end of the show, AR and I were both drenched in sweat and sore as hell but so, so stoked about the whole evening. The middle parts were also excellent; You Blew It! played a super high energy set and seemed genuinely thankful to be on stage in front of so many people who were so into their songs. A ton of people in the crowd had clearly come to the show to see the band, which was awesome.

Prior to You Blew It! taking the stage, local musician Valencourt played a handful of gorgeous acoustic songs, including a cover of Brand New’s “Play Crack the Sky”. We met him after the show and he was incredibly sweet. I owe him $3, because he let me pay him the only $2 I had in my wallet for the $5, 10-track album. (Jeff, I promise I’m going to pay you back!) He also gave AR his info so that we can interview him about successfully Kickstarting said album for Velociriot!, which is super exciting.

All in all, Saturday was everything I could have wanted and more. Next time The Front Bottoms are in New England, we’ll definitely be at the show — this band has become one that I can’t miss. I don’t suspect that will change anytime soon.

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