Doors opened at 7:30. Unfortunately, the location of the concert immediately detracted from the experience. In order to get to the Hard Rock Cafe, concert-goers first have to wait in line to go through CityWalk’s preliminary metal detectors. Doing so can become a hassle on any night, but the concert also started at the same time that a massive influx of people came for Halloween Horror Nights, creating dauntingly large lines.
Still, once one has made it past security, the Hard Rock Cafe provides a spacious and inviting venue for concerts. Although masks were scarce, the venue provided plenty of room in the back for those who wanted to socially distance.
Around 8:30, an unnamed warm-up act came out, casually attired in t-shirts, gym shorts and at least one snapback. Their whining vocals and stripped down guitar aligned with the Front Bottoms’ sound, but, judging by the first listen, their lyrics lacked the evocative and often satirical quality of the headliner’s.
After a thirty minute set and thirty minutes of waiting that flew by rather quickly, the Front Bottoms finally came out. They opened with a lively rendition of “The Beers,” a song from their debut that showcases their signature mix of moody lyrics and upbeat instrumentals.
Throughout the night, the majority of the 21 songs the band played came from their 2011 self-titled album, “The Front Bottoms.” A blend of their subsequent albums provided the rest of the songs, five of which were from their most recent album, “In Sickness & In Flames.” The mix provided a nice sample of their past work, which includes both stripped down guitar and the occasional synthesizer.
Standout songs included “Rhode Island,” “Fairbanks, Alaska,” “Vacation Town” and their most streamed song on Spotify, “Twin Size Mattress.” Each song features candid, relatable lyrics that ruminate on everything from discontent with one’s friends, to anger at a specific ex, to fond memories of the past.
Frontman Brian Sella’s fascination with Florida came up multiple times throughout the night. He mentioned a desire to move to Florida, and prefaced multiple songs, such as “Vacation Town,” with an explanation that they were written about an experience he had or place he visited in Florida. Though it was unclear how much of this was true, and how much was exaggerated for the sake of rousing the crowd, the audience appreciated it all the same.
The band has attracted a devoted group of fans over the years, and the unruly state of the crowd made that clear. Audience members screamed along to every song, and often called out requests for old fan-favorites. By a conservative estimate, about 11 concert-goers crowd surfed. Even if the music had been subpar, the energy from the audience ensured that the concert would generate a fun experience.
The show’s lighting and visuals also enhanced the experience, with a wide variety of saturated colors and patterns changing in time with the music. A set of six circular lights stood on the stage, in addition to the typical array of hanging lights one might expect from any concert venue. In the background, the visuals projected onto the cyclorama involved very literal interpretations of each song. For example, “Skeleton” was accompanied by a visual of cartoon dancing skeletons. “Au Revoir (Adios)” played in front of dinky word art spelling out “goodbye” in multiple languages. As neither lighting nor visuals were particularly show-stopping, the focus remained on the music.
Ultimately, the concert provided an entertaining night for both the veteran and the uninitiated Front Bottoms fan. The band now moves onto the rest of their tour, which concludes at the end of October. However, if they decide to revisit Orlando sometime in the near future, all music lovers should consider buying a ticket
What: The Front Bottoms concert
Where: Hard Rock Live
Rating: 4/5 stars