Catfish and the Bottlemen Review – Reading Festival 2015

August 30, 2015

Catfish and the Bottlemen are a difficult one. As soundchecks take place and banners are perfected, theres an excitement in the NME tent that Ive not seen all weekend.

On the one hard, they are energetic, youthful and full of hope, which all together creates one of the loudest, most satisfying performances of the weekend so far. On the other, however, my burning cynicism cant quite wonder what lies ahead for the Wales outfit with their roaring success in the NME tent on Saturday afternoon.

Singer Van McCann provides a focal point for the Wales outfit, dancing and dazzling his way through what is, in truth, an enjoyable but rather one dimensional collection of songs. Every riff, every lyric and every bass line has already been rehearsed a million times over by fans on Ipods and here, the crowd grasp their big moment to put all this into practice as loud as is feasibly possible. Indeed, with one of the largest crowds of the weekend so far, McCann and co are often completely and utterly drowned out by singing, clapping and cheering. But maybe thats whats grinding my gears. Im not sure whether what we’re seeing is an electrifying performance by one of the most promising bands around, or in fact, we’re merely viewing the display of some rather over-enthusiastic fandom. It seems as if here, the Reading faithful are watching lovingly upon their self-elected heir to the Main Stage headliners thrown.

But herein lies the danger. Catfish hold all the promise of some of the great indie forefathers that have come before them, but then so have thousands of others. Indie in particular has the rather unpleasant tendency to create villans of once over-romanticised heroes. No one is more vulnerable to this than Catfish, especially given their supposedly picturesque and organic rise through the BBC Introducing ranks; the stories of downfall write themselves. The brutal reality with Catfish is that without creating something truly original, the lifespan of bands of a similar indie-ilk is frighteningly short. So whilst we bounce in unison to colossal tracks such as Cocoon and Pacifier, I can only hope that with their second record, Catfish broaden their horizons. They already boast a finite control and ruthlessness over their lightening quick live show – displayed none more so than today at Reading 2015 – but at present, they lack that extra special touch of glitter to truly resonate for an extended period of time.

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