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Concert Review: Catfish and the Bottlemen rock Express Live

Lead singer of Catfish and Bottlemen, Van McCan, starts off the show at Express Live on Apr. 2. Credit: Madison Kelly | For the Lantern

On Tuesday night, popular UK-based band Catfish and the Bottlemen electrified popular Columbus venue, Express Live, for their latest tour stop, in preparation for their forthcoming album, “The Balance.”

When I entered the venue, the first thing I noticed about the stage was the giant motif of a toucan drinking a beer through a straw. This illustration is set to be the cover of this their third album and already appears on merchandise.

Right at 8 p.m., opening act, The Worn Flints, began performing. The traditionally three-piece band was assisted by a keyboardist, an extra vocalist and an extra guitarist throughout their quick 30-minute set. Their guitar-wielding, heavily bearded frontman, put on a show. Kenny Stiegele displayed his persona as a Rock god, dancing around his bandmates and hopping on one leg as he played. There wasn’t a moment where his waist-length hair wasn’t swaying around as he jammed out on his guitar. The passionate singer eventually introduced the band and shouted out Columbus as their hometown. Their set was primarily drenched in blue lighting, and the folk-rock trio ended with their most popular song, “If I Stay (Awake).” Before exiting the stage, their drummer tossed his sticks to fans in the audience.

Not much time passed before the headliners hit the stage, a little after 9. From the moment they arrived, the crowd was jumping and throwing their arms in time with the music, all through the first few songs. “Pacifier,” from their first album, was a crowd favorite. Actually, the set was heavily weighted with songs from their 2014 debut, “The Balcony.” Other tracks included in the performance were “Rango,” “Homesick” and “Kathleen.” The four-piece band played a handful of songs from their recent 2016 album, “The Ride,” including “Twice,” “Outside” and “7.”

This year, the band has released three singles ahead of their next album to be released later this month. Two of these singles were sprinkled in the set, “2all” and “Fluctuate.”

For me, the highlights of the performance included the orange-lit, acoustic performance of “Hourglass,” and the performance of “Business.” This was one of the longest songs performed, with a lengthy drum solo near the end, and a surprise crowdsurfing moment from an audience member. There were actually five total crowdsurfing incidents during their set, more than I’ve ever seen at a single show.

Personally, I’m a huge fan of a great lighting design in a show, and I think Catfish and the Bottlemen really nailed it. The toucan illustration that I mentioned earlier would light up throughout songs, around the stage and surrounding the drum kit would flash in accordance with the beat in reds, blues, yellows and greens.

The show ended with an extended performance of “Tyrants,” which is when most of the crowdsurfing actually occurred. Before the song, the lead singer exclaimed, “Thank you, we appreciate you very much!” and after the show, two or three guitar picks were thrown into the audience to end the night.

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