Last November, I attended my first ever show at the infamous Lupo’s Heartbreak Hotel in Providence, RI. It was a great show, but for one of the first times ever, I voluntarily left early. Last night, I returned to Lupo’s — with the same company I had last time — to see a show with fewer bands on the bill and less speechmaking from the local radio station.
Last night totally redeemed Lupo’s for me. The space is small, reminiscent of other venues I love, but the sound is huge for such a little space and can sometimes be overwhelming. That being said, last night, The Front Bottoms and Manchester Orchestra absolutely slayed.
I saw The Front Bottoms in July (at one of my favorite venues) and the crowd went absolutely apeshit. It was clear, at the July show, that everyone there expected that to happen. The Front Bottoms headlined, and the environment at the venue was one that encouraged pits and crowdsurfing and general rough behavior. Last night at Lupo’s, it was clear that tons of people either didn’t know the band or didn’t know the band’s audience — lots of people in the crowd were stunned and maybe a little terrified when the band took the stage and the pit exploded.
The set list was similar to the one the band played in July, but much shorter. Apparently, The Front Bottoms haven’t been playing “Rhode Island” on this tour but made an exception last night because. As lead singer Brian Sella put it, it “seemed appropriate.” The crowd reacted appropriately — everyone in the room who knew the lyrics were screaming them and it was so, so fun. The most amazing thing about seeing this band live is that everyone on stage looks so happy to be there. The more intense the crowd, the happier the boys are. I had an awesome time watching the band perform and I’m stoked to see it when it returns to Rhode Island in February. A.R. and I bought both albums last night at the merch table, since we’ve now seen the band twice and intend to see it a third time. We figure it’s time to own The Front Bottoms’ music rather than just streaming it on Spotify.
Following The Front Bottoms, Manchester Orchestra took the stage. The band opened with “Shake It Out” and the intensity of that song set the tone of the whole night. I never would have expected Manchester Orchestra to go so hard — nor would I have expected the majority of its audience to be drunk frat boys wearing flannel, but I digress. I’ve listened to Manchester Orchestra for years, but never listened to them obsessively. Seeing them live was an awesome experience, though. The band is ridiculously talented and clearly very, very, very into the music. There was so much energy in the room — coming from the band as well as the crowd — and it was a really cool feeling to be surrounded by it all. I only sang along to a handful of songs, but that didn’t limit my enjoyment. I went to the show for The Front Bottoms (admittedly), but I stayed for Manchester Orchestra.
At one point, a crowdsurfer actually stood in the middle of the pit and the band saluted him for the effort. Lead singer Andy Hull called for the crowd to find out if the fan was “actually Jesus Christ” and said he’d “never seen anything like that before”. It was a good moment. Another fan did the same thing several minutes later — in the same part of the pit — and the staff at Lupo’s seemed exasperated by the whole thing. People putting themselves in danger isn’t necessarily cool (Hull told the second fan to get down before they hurt themself) but it was really cool to see how into the show the crowd was. The band-fan interaction was awesome.
I’m not sure if I’ll go out of my way to attend shows at Lupo’s, even though I’m planning to move to Rhode Island in March, but I really enjoyed myself last night, and A.R. and I stayed for the whole show (save the tail end of the encore, because we were beat). Other highlights included dozens (and I do mean dozens) of people trying to get into the pit and encountering the railing we were leaning on — their faces were hilarious, every time — and talking to the super sweet merch guy for The Front Bottoms afte the show. Fantastic fucking night.