Sometimes a gig can lift you. Being in a sweaty room, with fifty other sweaty humans, enjoying 120 decibels of noise shoved into your ears at a dangerously close proximity, can be enough to make you forget the crushing banality of your everyday existence eating Boots Meal Deals and drinking Fosters. Sometimes a mere twenty minutes of music can make you feel alive, ready to take on the world. Not tonight.
Catfish and the Bottlemen are a throwback – well, at least they want to be a throwback. They are actually a child of the music industry’s obsession with reality. Catfish and the Bottlemen would tell you they make ‘real music’. But Catfish and the Bottlemen do not make real music. They make music that they think people want to hear.
It would be OK if they had some good songs – interesting, catchy, progressive, anything that doesn’t peddle the same pseudo-emotional shtick that has made the Kings Of Leon so popular in recent years. “That one was written by ourselves, none of that Strypes shit”, says frontman Van McCann, conveniently forgetting that writing a song is pointless unless it’s any good.
“That one was written by ourselves”, says frontman Van McCann, conveniently forgetting that writing a song is pointless unless it’s any good.
First up, however, are Bitter Strings, a Nottingham four-piece similarly preoccupied with the size of their quiff rather than the substance of their songs. Not that it’s particularly bad – the group are tight and have a strong stage presence. It all just seems a little forced, as if frontman Ben McConnachie has a 12-page summary of Alex Turner’s Glastonbury performance. Humbug-era Artics seem an obvious touchpoint, although Northern Soul references also abound. A couple of big singles and there’s no reason for Bitter Strings not to break through to the mainstream, but maybe they just need to have a bit of fun first.
Then Catfish and the Bottlemen take to the stage. They have a sperm for a logo, I notice. Yes, a sperm for a logo. After about five minutes they ask two female crowd members to take their tops off. And just in case we were left in any doubt, Van shoots down a crowd member who calls out “You’re great!” with “That’s a bit gay”. Just to confirm, Catfish are not gay.
They also have a lovely poster near their merch table at the back advertising ‘Nottingham Specials’. ‘Cum Sarnies’ are £2, ‘with cheese’ for an added pound.
They also have a lovely poster near their merch table at the back advertising ‘Nottingham Specials’. ‘Cum Sarnies’ are £2, ‘with cheese’ for an added pound. Heart-warming stuff indeed. To be fair, it might have even raised a wry smile were it not for the fact that they seem to write out the same poster for every gig. Rock and roll indeed.
The music washes over like a forgettable 0-0 England qualifier away at Moldova. It’s not offensive at all, but that’s almost worse than it being genuinely terrible. Instead, it’s cool, calm and collected – and totally heartless.
The music washes over like a forgettable 0-0 England qualifier away at Moldova. It’s not offensive at all, but that’s almost worse than it being genuinely terrible.
Catfish and the Bottlemen are a band with fake names, leather jackets and an all-black dress code. They play middle-of-the-road indie rock and use their status as a band to fulfil the rock’n’roll dream of asking thirties women to take their tops off. Real music, ladies and gentlemen.