‘Still smiling and laughing’: The Front Bottoms concert instills a sense of togetherness (Review)


Ryleigh Underwood

BRIGHT LIGHTS: The neon red sign of the Fillmore glows while a night of community forged in music comes together under its roof.


Amongst the chaos and craziness in the world, one of the few, if not the only thing that has the ability to bring us together, is music. In a society still undergoing a global pandemic, music has been our saving grace more than once. Now, with the distribution of vaccines and mask mandates being lifted, artists and musicians have begun to hold concerts once again.

I had the privilege of being able to attend one of these post-COVID concerts with my father and best friend. The performers in question, indie-punk-rock group, The Front Bottoms, had been on a grand tour of the U.S. since September of 2021. The New Jersey band had two openers unfamiliar to me, new to touring vocal artist Sydney Sprague, and Oso Oso, a seasoned band from New York.

I had bought tickets in July for the October 22 date at the Philadelphia venue, the Fillmore. The venue itself was spacious, with a 21+ section and an All Ages section for the young audience members that could not drink. Online, the venue claims to boast a 450 capacity limit but there were easily more attendees on the standing-room-only floor. 

The opening act, Sydney Sprague, immediately captured the audience with her powerful voice and playful energy. She engaged with the audience, and her passion for music practically melted off the stage, nothing short of infectious and beautiful. Sprague ended the set with a flawless rendition of blink-182’s classic, “I Miss You.” Despite this being her first tour, Sprague and her band absolutely knocked it out of the park and are surely going to be on more tours soon.

The second act, Oso Oso, took the stage and instantly drenched the packed venue with a sense of power and emotion that left me speechless. While all of their music sounded similar in tune, the energy was unmatched as the audience bounced around with lead singer Jade Lilitri, as he got the crowd pumped for the headliner: The Front Bottoms.

The Front Bottoms have been around since 2006, originally touring around New Jersey to any venue that would have them. In between tours, lead singer Brain Sella worked at a grocery store and drummer Matthew Uychich took up landscaping. In 2008, they self-released an album and an EP, as well as another album in 2009 but really took off in 2011, after an anonymous filmmaker reached out to them to film the “Maps” music video. The band has since been selling out shows left and right and creating amazing, distinct music amongst a pandemic. 

The Front Bottoms brought their own equipment to the venue, giving them a crystal clear sound that radiated throughout the packed room. 

The group kicked off the night with the song “Flashlight” from their 2011 self-titled release. The energy in the room spiked and never touched the ground as the night went on. Several times throughout the night, Sella, would have his bandmates cut their instruments and the group would listen to the audience scream lyrics back to them. 

An unforgettable moment for me was during the song, “Twin Sized Mattress,” when the music was cut as the audience shouted the lyrics, “I wanna contribute to the chaos, I don’t wanna watch and then complain!”

Pushing forward through songs from EPs, Ann and Rose, such as “Tie Dye Dragon” and “12 Feet Deep” as well as music from hit albums such as Back on Top, Talon of the Hawk, Going Grey, and their newest album, In Sickness and In Flames, the Front Bottoms curated a wonderful setlist full of audience participation. The band really took their music up-a-notch in the venue; their studio versions pale in comparison to the raw emotion and energy captured live, which is extremely hard to do.

The band left the stage after the hit “Au Revoir (Adios),” letting the audience plead for more. During the six minute break, the crowd began to chant “TFB, TFB, TFB!” and Sella returned, alone with his guitar, to a roaring applause as he began to play the beginning chords to fan favorite, “Twelve Feet Deep.” The group played an outstanding encore before leaving the stage for real this time and the audience left with them, invigorated with a feeling of love and belonging.

The Front Bottoms were fantastic and I would 100% go to see them perform again. The group has been a beloved band of mine since I was 11; so, to see them live and to shout those lyrics at the top of my lungs was a kind of catharsis that I will probably spend the rest of my life looking for.

Have you seen The Front Bottoms in concert? Have another concert recommendation for us? Want a free t-shirt? Comment below with your name and email address and you will be entered to win our Periscope t-shirt contest. Sorry–open only to current CHS students and staff.