[Photos by Kyle Cooper] I first heard of the Welsh band Catfish and the Bottlemen before I’d actually heard their music. It was during the Association of Independent Festivals Congress, a conference where festival organizers from around the UK and Europe gather to discuss all facets of the business.
Catfish came up several times in conversation, especially in the area of exclusivity clauses, quite common within festival agreements, which prevent acts from performing within a specified timeframe and vicinity of said festival. This group chose to forgo an appearance at one of the largest festivals in the world in lieu of being able to decide for themselves where they were going to play and when.
This enabled Catfish to hit numerous festivals while keeping up a rigorous, nearly non-stop touring schedule, making friends and fans along the way, gig by gig. So a big round of applause went through Cardiff’s Portland House during the Congress as a representative from ATC Management stood up from our table to receive the Live Act of the Year Award on their behalf.
Thousands of miles away and back home in Denver, it was great to finally hear their songs from The Balcony that post-Congress, I’d come to know well. I wasn’t alone. Everyone in the fully packed room of Larimer Lounge did also, showing their enthusiasm by singing along to “Pacifier” and “Sidewinder” for starters.
Lead singer and guitarist for Catfish, Van McCann, showed his appreciation. “It took us eight years to do this back in England,” he said with a wide grin, pointing out to the crowd, “to fill a room like this, but during our first headline tour.”
The party continued with the popular single, “Kathleen” and on to “Cocoon” before breaking the mood a bit as band members, including lead guitarist Billy Bibby, bassist Benji Blakeway, and Bob Hall, aka ‘Sideshow Bob,’ left the stage so McCann could croon the acoustic track, “Hourglass.” The fans joined in, “I wanna bring you home myself, bring you home myseeeeelf,” pleasantly surprising him once more.
Those eight years living out of a van to play gigs up and down the UK on £5 a day, as McCann mentioned in his recent NME interview, have paid off not only for the band but for the fans. There’s nothing like being at a gig, shoulder to shoulder with others who truly adore the people performing on stage, who connect with the lyrics as much as they do the guitar thrash and the drum blasts. Catfish radiated their pure love of playing right back, which overflowed from the stage to all the bodies taking in every note.
Catfish and the Bottlemen continue on tour through North America, including their official SXSW Music show (TBA) and as part of the British Music Embassy’s showcase on Tuesday, March 17 at Latitude 30. No doubt they will be one of this year’s ‘takes SXSW by storm’ bands, which will be very well deserved.
North America 2015 Tour
20-Feb – Ames, IA – Iowa State University
21-Feb – Minneapolis, MN – 7th Street Entry
23-Feb – St. Louis, MO – Firebird
24-Feb – Chicago, IL – Schubas Tavern
26-Feb – Columbus, OH – The Basement
28-Feb – Detroit, MI – Shelter
1-Mar – Lansing, MI – Mac’s Bar
3-Mar – Toronto, ON – The Garrison
4-Mar – Montreal, QC – Divan Orange
5-Mar – Boston, MA – Great Scott
6-Mar – Philadelphia, PA – MilkBoy
7-Mar – Buffalo, NY – Studio at Waiting Room
9-Mar – New York, NY – Bowery Ballroom
11-Mar – Washington, DC – DC9
12-Mar – Richmond, VA – The Camel
14-Mar – Nashville, TN – The High Watt
15-Mar – Atlanta, GA – Vinyl
Photo credit: Kyle Cooper, kylecooperphoto.com