Catfish and the Bottlemen brought the ballroom to life this past Friday as they headlined the Rave in Milwaukee. Touring for their new album The Balance the setlist illustrated their new sound, giving fans a sense of nostalgia as they showcased their past hits.
Kicking off with the first single off the album, Longshot, which was the band's highest-charting song to date, it sets the tone for what would be an hour and fifteen-minute long indie-rock show that left you with no voice by the end of the night.
Being a longtime fan of the band, I had hoped their setlist would include a few of my all-time favorites, all songs from their first two albums. To say Catfish and the Bottlemen have grown as a band would be an understatement. Having seen them in 2017, their development is clear: they aren’t messing around.
Each song they played required attention from their audience and the band chose to ignore some of their slower songs. This decision gave neither the audience or the band a break, inciting loud yelling and singing enough choruses to make your legs hurt the next day from how much jumping you did. It didn’t take long for me to literally feel the music, I broke a sweat as soon as they stepped on stage and didn’t stop until after the show.
I stand behind the statement that Catfish and the Bottlemen are one of the best live bands in their genre. Van McCann, the frontman, rarely let the exhaustion catch up to him. Each member caters to the other and it's clear there's a sense of trust that exists between the four of them.
They present themselves on stage as a united force and that's evident in the music they produce. Each song has a bass-riff or a drum solo that will blow you away. “Cocoon,” a song from their first album The Balcony, illustrates their capabilities as musicians. When the first guitar note hit the crowd, everyone felt it. Hands were up and heads were nodding while most screamed back the lyrics to the band, who openly welcomed the praise.
The first time I saw them was at a small venue in Brooklyn, NY. I was interested to see how their sound would cater to a different crowd because I’ve gathered from other artists that concerts in bigger cities can be their best performances. Going into the show, I was skeptical. The demographic ranged from young to old. While in the pit, I spotted a boy, no older than 13, and his mother. Once the show started, it became clear that what were mosh pits in New York City were head nodding and a collective jump-around in the midwest. Concert go-ers seemed more content staying one spot and singing back the lyrics, rather than creating a sense of chaos (that can often be exhilarating).
However, it proved to be no issue for the band. Catfish and the Bottlemen treat every show like it’s their last, or maybe their first. They bring 110 percent to the stage each night and that's one of the main reasons I admire them. They know their craft, and it helps that they’re good at it, too.
I haven't stopped talking about the show since and the high I left with. I often end recent conversations with the encouraging words of ‘go see them’ and I mean it. If given the chance, don’t pass up on a night of exceptional live music and you just might find yourself a fan for life.