I made the trek to Minneapolis, Minnesota which made everyone question my sanity. A Texan traveling to what felt like the arctic tundra.. It caused some nostalgic déjá vu. The last time I was in the mid-west for yet another British band was during the polar vortex for four Arctic Monkeys shows and I promised myself I’d never come back, during glacial weather again, yet somehow I found myself 30,000 feet in the air en route to Minneapolis for two Catfish and the Bottlemen concerts.
As we were queueing we befriended a couple of girls who arrived at the same time that we did, Megan and Molly are sisters from Minneapolis and deserve a much-needed shoutout. They graciously saved our spots in line as Teri and I rotated turns trying to warm up at the Depot Tavern next door.
To say it was frigidly cold is an understatement. As a person who was born and raised in the south, how I managed to survive an even colder night, than the night before, of queuing is beyond me.
Even when I was chatting with Bondy (aka Johnny Bond) the day before in Ames, Iowa he mentioned “I may be British but it’s cold here.” Looking back at it.. It was all crazy but I wouldn’t change a thing… Except maybe the weather.
We were let in promptly at 8pm, we all were i.d’d and tagged with wristbands and we all found our perfect spots.
7th St. Entry was a dim, sticky floor, intimate type of venue that I haven’t been to in a while. The stage spotlights were aesthetically dark but yet vibrantly vermillion which was foreshadowing of the intensity of Catfish and the Bottlemen’s performance.
The opening band was Wild Party, they were also from Texas. The guys were incredibly sweet and lively. Such great energy that had the room moving and dancing around to their “pop as shit” tunes, there were two extremely friendly drunks that can attest to that.
I normally hate comparing bands but if I had to say they sounded like anyone it’d be my nostalgic favorites, the All-American Rejects. (Look into Wild Party, they’ll be at Firefly festival!)
Anticipation was increasing, people were getting pushy but the waiting music CATB were playing had the crowd at ease. Tame Impala, Arctic Monkeys, and even some throwbacks were in the mix but when I heard the piano intro of Roses by Outkast, I knew that my night was going to be stellar.
The venue was compact and the crowd condensed but it was a sold out show and when Catfish and the Bottlemen walked out and began their set with Rango, we all knew why.
CATB’s vitality was substantial, it was if you can almost feel their energy on your skin which says a lot.. I was wearing multiple layers, my Texas blood was cold. The energy that was coursing through Van, Bondy, Benji, and Bob was apparent to every one.
The devilishly blood-red lights caused the guys to be slightly obscure but it just appealed to the crown even more. The boisterous group hit all the right notes. Van’s voice was melodic with that lilting trademark scratchiness. His voice always has that partially raspy thing going on but he’s getting ill. Before starting into Hourglass, he takes a drink out of his red solo cup and says “so I gotta try to lube off in between songs so, uh, sorry for being a macho man.. Ahh half-time break.” Van could’ve fooled us, he didn’t show signs of being ill, truly putting everything he has into his performance.
His snarling riffs made the girls go weak in the knees and the band’s humble charisma also contributed.
Bob, aka “Sideshow Bob,” Hall pulverized the beat on the drums. It was difficult to not pay attention to his demeanor, energetically shaking his head/hair causing the room to pulsate.
Benji Blakeway was charmingly stoic. He has this quiet confidence that shows when he performs. He made not only the room quiver with that booming bass but hearts as well. Overhearing a certain conversation behind me, Benji had the crowd going.
Johnny, “Bondy,” Bond was magnetic. He nailed the power stance while simultaneously seems to be in a nonchalant hypnotic trance while performing. Bondy and Van even perform side by side and even back to back, in a give/taking of energy.
I also can’t forget to mention that while CATB are performing their eleven song set, they are battling in an ongoing gummy bear war with Mike and Larry (their supertech or as they band call him, Catfish and the Bottlemen’s rider thief) and if that doesn’t spark an intriguing interest in these lads, what will?
Asking me if traveling to the arctic tundra of the midwest to see Catfish and the Bottlemen was worth it is like asking if I like concerts… Of course. 100% worth it. I’ve been a fan of this band since I first heard Homesick in late 2013. (You can even search through our CATB archive and see we’ve been supporting them for a while.) Having missed their Austin gig for ACL in 2014, there was no way I was going to miss them even if it meant traveling to polar temperatures it was worth seeing one of my favorite bands.
I’ve not been shy about my love or support of Catfish and the Bottlemen, I’ve been telling everyone I know about them. Their shows are a must see, must go to type of shows… Not sure what CATB do to those red lights that make us leave feeling some type of way about them but they looked and sounded incendiary.