This past year, I’ve seen a lot of live acts. Many of them don’t seem to care about being commercially successful, some of them are huge stars, and some are up-and-comers with blatant commercial aspirations. And then there is Catfish and the Bottlemen, a relatively new band out of Wales. They have a commercial knack to them for sure, but also would still be classified as an “indie” band. Whatever they are, they have a big following among millenials, and they rocked out at the Electric Factory on Friday.
CatB rock pretty hard – think the Strokes, Johnny Marr – and they have a very strong live act. Van McCann is the lead singer and rhythm guitarist. And he is a great performer. While watching him, I kept thinking of the Clash lyrics from All They Young Punks:
I knew how to sing
Why' know an
They knew how to pose
An' one of them had a Les Paul
Heart attack machine
McCann knows how to sing and pose, and he knows how to move about the stage, interact with the crowd, and simply take command of the show and drive it. He is a pleasure to watch, and was really enjoyable.
The rest of the band is super solid, too. The most important guy, Bob Hall, the drummer, was simply aces. Johnny Bond, the lead guitarist, is solid, and the bassist, Benji Blakeway, grooved all night, too. Tight? Hells yeah. It’s clear that these guys take their craft seriously, and that they are looking to continue to grow their audience. The audience knew all the lyrics to all the songs, and were way fired up all night long. Everyone was up dancing and enjoying (except the VIP section in the balcony who weirdly stayed seated) and the Electric Factory was shaking.
The band used a lot of high-tech lighting. I think that lighting can be a gimmick sometimes, but if used properly, it can enhance the show to great effect. Catfish sometimes overdid it with the strobes, but they had a sophisticated lighting set that was overall pretty cool. Many newer bands forget about lighting, but just go see one of the huge acts, and you can understand the theatrical impact that lighting has on a live performance. Bands with a knack for attention just get these things implicitly, and Catfish has a knack for attention.
The Electric Factory isn’t my favorite venue, but it’s fine. I always think that it’s a fire trap – it takes a fair amount of time to exit, and they have these fences on the main level to separate the bar area from the general admission part. They have hung up some sound absorbing curtains on the walls, which has helped the acoustics. And it has an elevated stage which helps for site lines. But stand up venues should always have a sloped floor, and the EF doesn’t. And it’s kind of big, holding a few thousand. It’s not the Fillmore, which is really big, but EF can be pretty crowded.
The audience was pure millennial. It was funny to watch them take their selfies, and text all night during the show. (Is anyone else sick of texting culture? C’mon, be in the moment, man!) Anyway, it took a while to exit because each millennial was given a trophy simply for participating as audience members.
Here are some more pictures. Yes, I pushed my way pretty close to the front to grab these shots just for your enjoyment. So I hope you enjoy them. We’ll catch up again soon with some non-music fun. And of course, plenty of more music to come. See you on the flipside.
My name is Bill, and I live in the greater Philadelphia area. I love music, and I have a lot of opinions. This site is primarily focused on music, but sometimes I get off track. I hope you enjoy.