Over-21s gather down by The Pub to see The Front Bottoms
by Chris Hawk
The Front Bottoms, an indie-rock band from New Jersey, played at The Pub on Feb. 21, to the enjoyment of UAF students and community members alike, as part of Winter Carnival weekend. “There’s a lot of luck involved in getting a band up here,” Eli BarryGarland, Concert Board member, said.
The Concert Board tries to find a band to agree on, that they can afford, that’s available to play and that the university can insure. The Front Bottoms have good stage presence, are a fun band and have a pretty big following in Alaska, according to Barry-Garland, which is why the Concert Board selected them. The Concert Board sold 275 tickets before the show started at 8 p.m
Danger Lot, who opened for The Front Bottoms, is composed of Nick Merlot (vocals and guitar), Jake Chavez (bass) and Chad File (drums).
“It was sweet,” Steven Cassell, UAF engineering student and one of the several attendees who were crowd-surfing, said. “They’re like the new Blink-182”.
“I thought that they were the greatest thing ever,” Matt Harris, ASUAF senator, said. “I loved every second of it.” Harris has a tattoo on his right thigh, a reference to a lyric of The Front Bottoms, which he showed to lead singer Brian Sella on stage.
This is the first time The Front Bottoms have come to Alaska.
The Front Bottoms are a young band, composed of 20-somethings, Brian Sella (vocals/guitar), Matt Uychich (drums), Tom Warren (bass) and Ciaran O’Donnell (keys/trumpet/guitar).”It’s beautiful,” Uychich said. “One of the nicest States I’ve been to.” Getting to play in Alaska was unexpected for the band.
“I never thought in my entire life I would go to [Alaska],” Sella said. The Front Bottoms have gone dog sledding, ice climbing and saw the aurora Friday night. Sella told the story, during their set, of how they booked a tour to see the northern lights and were picked up by an old man and watched the northern lights in his backyard, then watched him do an enthusiastic dance before they were allowed to leave.
After recording a lot of music and in need of a band name, the name “The Front Bottoms” was thought up impromptu and stuck, coming from a line from the crime movie “Sexy Beast.”
“We could stay at this level forever, it’d be fine,” Warren said. “Hopefully it gets better.” The band spends a lot of its time going on tour and recording.
“It’s a lifestyle, it’s all we’ve done for the last three years,” Uychich said. “We meet cool people who we would never have met otherwise,” Warren said.
The band isn’t especially wealthy, but they are supporting themselves with their music. “We ain’t ballin’,” Uychich said, “Tom barely has a car.”
“I live at home,” Warren said.
To prep for their set, the band usually has a few drinks beforehand, and often times drink while performing.
“One tour was Jäger,” said Uychich, who has only performed once sober. A little bit of drinking can make performing more fun, says Uychich. Usually, the band gets cheap beer from the places they perform, but at The Pub they got some of the nicer samples.
“I like cheap beer,” Warren said.
“The staff here at the school have been … really helpful,” Uychich said.
“They’re really cool guys,” Donald Crocker, pub manager, said.
For fun, O’Donnell likes to solve Rubik’s Cube puzzles, which he accomplishes in about two minutes. He’s also been working on doing handstands, although it’s a little more frustrating than fun, he said. Uychich watches “The Sopranos,” which takes place near where the band lives in New Jersey. He also likes mopeds.
Everyone works together to make a song. “We don’t pull our hair out making songs,” Uychich said.
“I don’t know if it ever really sounds the way that I intend for it to,” Sella, who writes all of the lyrics for their songs, said. Part of the artistic expression, according to Sella, is having people listen to the music they create and interpreting it in a way that he didn’t intend for.
Sella and Uychich, founding members of the band, have known each other since second grade. “[This band] is kind all I have,” Uychich said. “We all get along,” Warren said.
“We’ve never really hit a wall” Uychich said. If it wasn’t smooth sailing, it would be self-destructive, adds Sella.
Setting up for the performance started at noon on Saturday, eight hours before the doors opened. In order to satisfy the fire marshal and raise the capacity of The Pub from 250 to 300 for the performance, tables had to be moved out of The Pub.