When one hears that a band is from Llandudno, Wales and has the name Catfish and the Bottlemen, the expectation of hipster pretentiousness is nearly insurmountable. However, the four lads brought nothing but joy, enthusiasm and an utterly charming humility to their concert at Terminal 5 on Oct. 18.
The evening started with the psychedelic rock group The Worn Flints. Whatever the venue’s record for amount of hair onstage is, the four guys from Ohio definitely broke it. A bizarrely entertaining experience was born from their impressive range of facial expressions, combined with energetic head-banging and chunky guitar riffs.
As Catfish and the Bottlemen came on stage, they started with their upbeat anthem “Homesick,” setting the bar high for energy for the rest of the night. While crowd-pleaser “Kathleen” could have been saved for later in the show, its timing did not prevent a single person from screaming along to the line “You give me problems!” in the entire venue. While the grittier “Anything” was less of a fist-pumper, lead guitarist Johnny Bond — colloquially referred to as Bondy — made up for it with his impressive guitar solo. Though the chiming anthems made the evening, there was something especially magical about hearing the opening line of “Emily” in the venue, as hundreds of fans sung out “New York, surprise me!”
Lead singer and guitarist Van McCann proved himself to be a natural star, exuding confidence while completely lacking the air of arrogance or self-absorption that it so often accompanies. While his ragged vocals and roars were charming and distinctive on the albums, the recordings are unable to replicate all of the energy and emotion that he transmits live. This was especially evident in the cheeky, acoustic jam “Glasgow,” where McCann took the stage alone, taking turns with the eager audience members to sing the chorus.
As the second show of their first tour of the United States, Catfish and the Bottlemen delivered vigor and gave New York a night packed with joy. If the remaining shows go as this one did, there is no doubt that the band will reach the success of their idols and fellow Brits, the Arctic Monkeys.
Email Kamila Daurenova at [email protected]