Catfish and the Bottlemen at Shepherd’s Bush Empire
Welsh four-piece Catfish and the Bottlemen, who released their debut album The Balcony in September last year, have certainly amassed an ecstatic following. As soon as the first chord was strummed to opener Rango, plastic cups of beer started to fly and the downstairs crowd started to pogo. Mates got on mates’ shoulders to bounce and wobble about precariously and turn around to gee up the crowd behind them. It was hilarious mayhem. The band’s energy is exuberant and they have hooks to spare – littering the venue, chucked out with ease and nonchalance, as if every band can write songs this catchy. They no doubt lodged themselves in the heads of every single person in the crowd.
Lead singer, the excellently named Van McCann, announced that their album has gone gold before they played one of their biggest hits, Pacifier. He mentioned this a few more times throughout the set, and who can blame him? He was effusive in his thanks for those who had played their music on the radio and the fans who bought the album. Cathfish and the Bottlemen have certainly paid their dues: they played in the car parks at gigs to promote themselves when starting out, and performed at 30 festivals last year alone.
The musical style is interesting: the guitars at times wander into winding, shoegazy territory but the belligerent drums and McCann’s undeniably epic vocals keep it from being shoegaze proper. Their energy recalls early Arctic Monkeys, and McCann’s voice is a little like the Kooks frontman, but without the sheep-on-a-power-plate affectation. There is an honesty to the lyrics that clearly resonates. On Business, McCann sings: “I wanna make you my business…I wanna make it my problem.”
The jittery strobes added to the frenetic feeling at Shepherd’s Bush Empire. Biggest hit Kathleen is probably the catchiest song of this year and sent the young crowd wild, while Cocoon changed the mood a little, showing some pensive beauty. Before they closed with Sidewinder, McCann revealed they had their second album ready and asked the crowd to “stick with us, it’s gonna be a party.” On the strength of their performance, no one doubts that. The fact that their November shows at Brixton Academy have already sold out speaks of their power to move and shake in this genre.
Photos: Zak Macro
For further information about Catfish and the Bottlemen and future events visit here.
Watch the video for Cocoon here: