Catfish and the Bottlemen
House of Blues Anaheim
British rockers Catfish and the Bottlemen invaded the House of Blues in Anaheim on Wednesday evening, but their fans — consisting primarily of young girls with a parent in tow or at the mercy of a friend with a driver’s licence — swarmed the venue well ahead of the opening act. Eagerly awaiting to hear their favorite songs, the audience would’ve truthfully settled for literally any song off of the band’s debut album, The Balcony, or their sophomore album, The Ride.
Launching straight into their set with a jazzy introduction from Frank Sinatra’s discography, Ryan Evan “Van” McCann, Matthew Benjamin “Benji” Blakeway, Robert “Sideshow Bob” Hall, Johnny “Bondy” Bond walked out onto the stage to greet hundreds of screaming fans with smiles and waves before quickly jumping into their first song of the evening, “Homesick.” Within minutes, security had to remove dozens of girls from the front of the crowd due to the overbearing weight of being crushed by the hysterical crowd pushing closer towards the stage.
Without spending too much time on small talk, McCann found time to thank the concertgoers for coming out to support them on their journey so far away from home. It was during those momentary lapses in singing when waves of love notes and gifts came crashing down on the stage. Being the good sport that he is, McCann did his best to catch them with the utmost enthusiasm, often missing and having to recruit side-stage personnel to assist with clearing away the tangible admissions of affection.
Not to go unmentioned, there were more moms grooving out to both familiar songs like “Soundcheck” and new single “Twice” than you’d find at a E.L. James signing for another 50 Shades of Grey installment. It was apparent that Catfish and the Bottlemen were fun for the entire family. Also in attendance were a surprisingly minimal amount of dudes. Not to say that there aren’t more male fans out there, but that their girlfriends probably left them at home so that they could swoon over the young, British heartthrobs freely. For those who were allowed to attend alongside their significant others, they too knew every lyric to every track performed.
For the entirety of the evening, guests sang along with the band from the very first song until the final note, never leaving McCann to sing his own verses and choruses without assistance. When it came to helping him sing “Hourglass” however, the patrons did more than just shout words back at him. Perhaps it was the delicate nature of the tune or the shift in intensity with the introduction of the acoustic guitar, but the crowd suddenly knew how to harmonize together and did such an incredible job that McCann barely accompanied them, only contributing vocally on the lines that needed to be emphasized the most.
Knowing full well that they intended to play more songs, the quartet decided not to go the traditional route and walk off stage after psyching out the audience with a premature goodbye. Instead, the guys played straight through “7” and transitioned directly into their final two songs. It was the exact opposite of an encore — a non-core, if you will. While Hall kept the beat going on the drums, McCann made sure to let everyone know that the show was indeed coming to an end, but not without sharing the utmost gratitude for those who found time in their busy schedules to be in attendance.
To conclude their time on stage, the gentlemen of Catfish dove into well-loved classics, “Cocoon” and “Tyrant.” In those final moments, the band somehow played with more energy than they began their already spirited set with, thrashing around and playing harder and louder than before. As they prepared to leave, McCann had basically MacGyvered the stage, moving mic stands around in a way that he was able to weave the cords from the front stands all the way back to the drumset. He left his guitar hanging from an amp in a way that seemed to signify he was leaving a part of himself behind for their devoted fans to remember.