Most of their songs are about simplicity; getting drunk, falling in love, doing things wrong.
Recently, Catfish and the Bottlemen have been blowing up in the ‘indie-sphere’; with all of their released singles receiving the glorious accolade of being named the ‘Hottest Record in the World Right Now’ by Zane Lowe. I arrived at their gig at Thekla just in time to catch the end of the support act – Honeyblood. The two-piece, consisting of guitarist and singer Stina Tweeddale and drummer Cat Myers, finished their set with the energetic ‘Killer Bangs’ a lo-fi punk inspired indie song. The playfulness of the relationship of the band was evident in the track as you could see the obvious pleasure the duo were taking in riffing off each other toying with the audience as the song built to it’s close.
As Catfish and the Bottlemen stepped on stage in front of their banner, a simple line drawing of a headless boy and girl with their hands stuffed down the other’s trousers, the devotion of the crowd became obvious as the room erupted. A swell of audience members pushed to the front and frenzied screams filled the room in a mighty wave. As soon as the first song began I was shocked by the speed at which the entire crowd lost their shit. As a feel-good indie band I wasn’t expecting such levels of intensity from the audience, but intense it was. Limbs were flailed, heads were banged and crowds were surfed in a savagely admirable manner. Someone even began spasmodically waving a go-pro on a stick at the crowd, whilst teenage indie kids threw themselves at each other in the moshpit.
Catfish and the Bottlement threw a few acoustic songs into their set, but they didn’t have the impact of their other songs. It is safe to say that the songs that stole the show were the ones with a feral intensity; the band members thrashing at their instruments while Van McCann stood convulsing at the microphone stand in a wild passion. The one song that stood out in particular was ‘Cocoon’. The track had a triumphant anthemic quality to it; the rhythm shifts came satisfyingly to highlight the manifesto of the song. As the song ended McCann stood in the spotlight, the sweat shining on his forehead as the music faded out, quietly repeating the same refrain: ‘‘Fuck it if they talk / Fuck it if they try and get to us / Cause I’d rather go blind / Than let you down” and slowly the crowd began to join in, taking over the burden and shouting it as one unified body. As I looked around at the crowd, I saw everyone joining in, from the indie teens at the front, to uni students at the bar, and even one couple in the middle of the crowd who looked to be in their forties, all singing the same lines with the same fervor.
Suddenly, I realized why Catfish and the Bottlemen’s banner was so wildly appropriate. The band don’t play the kind of music you can get cerebral about, most of their songs are about being simplicity – getting drunk, falling in love, doing things wrong – they play music that you feel first, music that instinctively makes you empathise, and this immediacy of feeling is overpowering, gratifying, and god-damn catchy.
Check out ‘Cocoon’ right here: