Concert review: Catfish and the Bottlemen

Brit alternative-rock band underwhelms audience with short, simple performance


Bridget Kingston , Features Editor

Giddy teenagers and hipster adults alike filled the House of Blues to capacity Saturday night, all to get a glimpse of the ever intriguing, up-and-coming band, Catfish and the Bottlemen. The enigmatic quartet of punksters left the crowd hanging after an explosive hour of performing their debut album, “The Balcony,” nearly verbatim.   

The North Wales natives, lead by frontman Ryan McCann, opened with “Rango,” one of their less popular songs from “The Balcony.” The clattering drums and all encompassing electric guitars effortlessly blasted above the excited screams and cheers from the crowd; the stacks of amplifiers on stage made sure of that. Rosy hued lights flashed in sync to the snarling sounds, setting the tone for the next series of songs.

Catfish wasted no time diving into their banging, high-energy hit “Pacifier,” giving the crowd a much needed jolt of exhilaration. The rush was unfortunately short lived, as McCann managed to ram the neck of his guitar into the mic stand doing some sort of overly dramatic maneuver, resulting in an awkward length of repetitive chords and tech crew assistance. The energy picked up again once they were situated, but not to the same degree it could have been.

A similar occurrence took place during the closing song, “Tyrants.” The guitar-solo- heavy hit was headed in the direction of being a great note to end the night on. The crowd was rallied as ever, only to be blindsided by a painfully awkward repetition of the same bass chords played over, and over, and over again. By the time they got around to the final spree of grinding guitars and ear piercing drums, the crowd was so underwhelmed and confused that it was too late for the vibe to be salvaged.

Acoustic “Hourglass” served as a much welcomed break from the relentless sound and flaring lights. Even with McCann’s distinct voice barely distinguishable against the backdrop of the crowd’s cheers, the bittersweetly short melody served as a definite highlight.

There was little to no commentary (or creativity, for that matter) from the band, besides the obligatory “How’s it going, CHICAGO?” and “We are Catfish and the Bottlemen.” The only one of the four members who made a mere attempt at maintaining a stage presence was McCann, who just clumsily bopped around stage, causing more trouble than it was probably worth.

 Perpetually compared to the early Arctic Monkeys, Catfish and the Bottlemen definitely have some big shoes (and tight pants) to fill. They were so close, yet so far away from giving a solid, memorable performance. They have all the right ingredients for a great show in the palm of their hands- catchy material, ardent fan following, and natural charm and intrigue. Unfortunately, it just didn’t come together for them as much as the crowd was hoping for. Perhaps they are using reverse psychology to keep their fans hooked by releasing amazing, irresistible material only to give mediocre-at-best performances, with the idea that it will keep fans coming back, starving for just a taste of something more. It could go either way for Catfish and the Bottlemen, but they’re definitely worth keeping an eye on.