Catfish and the Bottlemen played at the Maintenance Shop in Ames, Iowa to a sold out crowd inside the student union at the University of Iowa.
Most notable about this venue is the fact that we got to queue indoors.
Iowa was warmer than my native Minnesota at the time but being able to wait inside a building in winter to get into a venue is a rare treat and something we never take for granted. The venue was tiny for a band that has been generating so much buzz overseas, and stateside, that sold out not one but two nights at Brixton Academy. The venues in America have remained small and it seems fitting for the Welsh natives to play to a room full of fans who for the most part know every song and who closely follow the band’s four members’ social media. Even the guitar tech named Larry (also a close childhood friend of lead singer Van McCann) seems to have his own fan base.
The opening band known as Wild Party, was an energetic primer for Catfish. With upbeat rhythms and sing-along worthy choruses.
At this particular show Wild Party had its own cheering section, with a select group of girls in the front who sang and danced along to every song in the setlist. It was great to see such vivacious and excited energy.
After Wild Party’s set was finished, we waited patiently for the lights to dim and the headliners to emerge from the tiny backstage area. The song “Roses” by Outkast was a worthy introduction tune, mostly because it was the last song I expected a rock band to walk out to but it was a perfect fit though and had a couple of people in the front were even shamelessly singing along. (Myself included.)
Rango’s soaring opening chords were the best opener I could’ve imagined and the show was off to a great start.
Every song was progressively better and to my surprise Hourglass was strategically placed toward the end of the show. It was a welcome change of pace from the faster songs, with Van and his acoustic taking the spotlight.
The crowd was vibrant and appreciative, with Van assuming the role of a quiet storm. He built on the momentum from each song, bringing the energy through to each number which made them all feel fresh, as if you were hearing them for the first time.The ending solo in Tyrants served as the closing melody, and everyone’s energy and dedication to their respective instruments was put on full display during the finale. From beginning to end, this was a show that proved to everyone why Catfish and the Bottlemen are undeniably on the verge of becoming the U.K.’s next big hit here in the United States.