Article by: Ryan Javier and Nicholas Sanders
Photos by: Ryan Javier
DALLAS – Hundreds of adoring fans packed out the historic House of Blues in downtown, on a Monday evening mind you, to see the UK’s alt/pop/punk rock quartet: Catfish and the Bottlemen.
It was astounding to see a crowd that size in any venue, let alone one of the largest in the city, on a weeknight. How was this band from the EU, a relatively unknown in the US, able to pull of this seemingly impossible feat? It’s simple; they are not “unknown” and they totally fucking rock. Key stateside performances on Letterman, Conan and at the Governor’s Ball in New York, along with unimpeded connectivity of social media has served to spread awareness and fuel the fire of idolization of this rising band. Oh, and hip catchy hooks overlaid with powerful, inspiring and sometimes touching lyrics, all of which exquisitely encapsulate the resounding voice of the millennial, may also have something to do with Catfish’s ascending acceptance and adoration throughout the free world. Whatever they are doing, they are on the right track; the sheer number of fans in attendance was a testament to Catfish and the Bottlemen’s immense popularity on this side of the pond.
Under a cloak of darkness, the Beatle’s “Helter Skelter” began to play on the sound system, echoing throughout the great hall. The screams from the audience intensified as the music faded and the quartet that had drawn such a massive crowd, took to the stage. As the lights came up, a colossal banner emblazoned with the band’s moniker (serendipitously reminiscent of the ubiquitous “keep calm and carry on” sign) was revealed and with that, the Catfish and the Bottlemen started what was to become an epic set. From the moment the first chord was struck, the audience was theirs. Enthralled and awestruck (and love-struck) fans hung on the band’s every note, swooning and swaying to the point that fainting became a real possibility.
Catfish and Bottlemen formed in Llandudno, a seaside town in the northwest of Wales in 2007. The group has a few lineup changes over the years and currently consists of founding member Ryan “Vann” McCann on vocals and guitar, lead axe-man Johnny Bond, Benji Blakeway on bass and percussionist Bob Hall. After putting out a trio of well-received singles in 2013, the band changed labels and released their hit single “Kathleen” followed shortly by their debut album, The Balcony, in 2014. The single peaked at #1 on MTV’s Hottest Tracks and The Balcony quickly became a Gold Record, reaching #10 on the UK charts and #9 in the US. With radio play, exposure at major EU music festivals and a certified Gold album under their collective belts, Catfish and the Bottlemen have firmly established themselves across the pond as a premier band. Judging by the near-pandemonium of audience’s warm reception in Dallas, one can only conclude that the same is true here in the States.
With their trademark style of alternative-poppy-punk-infused brit-rock, the Catfish effortlessly killed, performing fan favorites as well as a healthy dose of tracks off their current album. Their sound is uniquely their own; if an analogy must be drawn among contemporaries, however, one could say that the Catfish and the Bottlemen would be like the Arctic Monkeys crossed with One Direction, only the Catfish are much better (talent and music-wise) than both groups combined. Catfish are a force to be reckoned with; ushering in a phase of all-embracing music fusion, creating an ever increasing swath of blissful devotes the world over. The set, according to fans in attendance, was utter perfection, however the length of the show was “too short”. A statement that is a both a compliment and a testament to the band’s genius. The band wrapped their concert after forty-five minutes, give or take, leaving the audience begging for more. The Catfish smoothly pulled off the classic move of “Kill ‘em quick and leave ‘em wanting more”, undoubtedly gleaned from the hallowed pages of proverbial rock ‘n roll handbook, with such immaculate impeccability it was downright astonishing.
Catfish and the Bottlemen are in the midst of their twenty-city North American fall tour. Check out their website for tickets and tour dates, however the sooner you score seats the better; if the response in Dallas is any indication, tickets are likely to be few and far between. The album, The Balcony, is available in vinyl, CD and as a mp3 through the bands store and digital downloads can be found just about anywhere that music is sold. Stay up-to-date with the latest happenings by connecting with this rising band through Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube.