As a fan of live music, going from seeing a show at least twice weekly to no shows at all for about eight months has been rough, but it’s nothing compared to what venues and artists have gone through in that time. It’s been a year of live-streaming, fundraisers, and trying to find new ways of keeping the making of music and the creation of these unique communal experiences alive through these difficult times.
One of those ways that have emerged in recent months is the advent of drive-in concerts.
Now, I have a confession, I haven’t been to a drive-in movie in, maybe, 30 years, and I certainly had never been to a drive-in concert. But it was a pretty great experience after driving in and arriving to my designated space to see The Front Bottoms perform at the Frederick Fairgrounds in a show presented by Baltimore Soundstage. On Oct. 28, the show began with a documentary-style black and white video of the band traveling along highways and eventually arriving to the Frederick Fairgrounds for this evening’s performance.
Then, The Front Bottoms — singer/guitarist Brian Sella and drummer Mat Uychich with touring members Erik Kase Romero on keyboards/guitars and Natalie Newbold on bass/vocals — took the stage and made it clear, looking across the field of cars, that they were there to share some much needed, albeit socially distanced, fun.
Formed in 2006, the duo from New Jersey have exploded, racking up critically acclaimed albums and with the release this August of their latest, In Sickness & In Flames, they embarked on a short drive-in tour, starting in their home state that same month.
Beginning their set with a wink and nod to the season with “Skeleton” from Talon of the Hawk, the band shot through one crowd favorite after another. It took on a new resonance to hear people sitting on cars sing the refrain from “The Beers,” “…and I will remember that summer…,” as the band stopped to listen. They even played a song that Brian announced they had never played live before, “The Truth,” from the new album.
Watch a video for “Fairbanks, Alaska” by The Front Bottoms on YouTube:
As the band got to the end of the two hour plus set and walked off the stage, instead of claps for the encore, a sea of car horns called for a few more tunes. The band came back out the play a new rocker, “Leaf Pile” and ended the set with the apt “Au Revior (Adios).”
The set list included:
You Used to Say (Holy Fuck)
Cough It Out
Love at First Sight
Twin Size Mattress
Twelve Feet Deep
Be Nice to Me
Au Revoir (Adios)
Here are photos of The Front Bottoms performing at Showtime at the Drive-In in Frederick, Maryland, on Oct. 28, 2020. All photos copyright and courtesy of David LaMason.