There's always a great feeling when you stumble across a band that hits you in all the right spots, and judging by the rabid band of Young People bouncing, dancing and (sigh) moshing to the Front Bottoms Tuesday at Club Sound, the New Jersey band is hitting a lot more people the right way than I realized.
Ridiculously catchy songs, an energetic live show and lyrics from vocalist Brian Sella that veer easily from intensely personal to overtly hilarious, while always packing an emotional wallop--it would surprise me if Sella didn't have some Hold Steady or Replacements in his record collection.
Then again, maybe not. Stella and his cohorts (drummer Matt Uhchich, bassist Tom Warren and guitarist/keyboardist/trumpet player (!) Ciaran O'Donnel struck me as younger than I imagined, given the straight-ahead rock approach that I tend to assign toward performers closer to my age. Seeing these young cats lead a punky revue of their songs full of hilarity and heartbreak--and watching the couple hundred young fans go crazy and sing along to every word of more than one--was enough to give me hope for the state of rock in 2014.
The set was heavy on songs from the band's excellent 2013 release, Talon of the Hawk. "Funny You Should Ask" was an early highlight, with Stella's lyrics of the struggles of growing up combining with a potent performance from all of the band. The fans' reaction to "Lone Star" inspired Stella to exclaim, "Seriously, Salt Lake City, you always treat us so well." It wouldn't be the last time he effusively thanked the kids raging in front of the stage.
"Au Revoir" and "Peach" from the new album got equally rousing responses, and some folks' shouts for older songs from the band's 2011 self-titled debut were rewarded with excellent takes on "Flashlight," "Father" and "Swimming Pool."
The band dubbed this their "Hot Chocolate Tour" for some reason, so the quartet was joined by a dancing inflatable snowman on stage. I don't know if he's on tour with the band for those nights when no one in the crowd wants to move to the Front Bottoms' sounds, but if that's the case, he sure wasn't needed at the fantastic hour-plus gig covering nearly 20 songs on Tuesday night.