The only reasonable response to the throng that awaits Catfish and the Bottlemen at Austin City Limits is to smile – and that’s exactly what frontman Van McCann is doing for the majority of their set today. Third from the top of Glastonbury’s Other Stage lineup this year, they’re not far behind that Stateside, with a 4.30pm time at the Honda Stage acknowledging their rising status here. The huge audience that joins them for their set is totally up for it, with plenty of screaming and lyric-chanting at the front. Across the crowd, hands are aloft for the majority of Catfish’s hour. They’re in the palm of McCann’s hand.
The Llandudno quartet have recently been touring the US supporting Mumford and Sons in venues whose capacity reaches into the tens of thousands. About to embark on their own US tour – with some dates sold out – they’ll no doubt be feeling chuffed after drawing thousands to their stage today. The Mumford tour could be partially to thank, but the real reason for their popularity here might just be their word-of-mouth immediacy. Several punters I spoke to before the set started – many of them under 30 – had either been told about Catfish by friends, or were spreading the word themselves.
Despite his obvious enjoyment, McCann isn’t too chatty today, preferring for the band to blast their way through their catalogue of big-hitting indie songs that their crowd are singing along to. There’s nothing here you could call filler: flitting between their first and second albums, you end up with a killer string of songs like ‘Homesick’, ‘Kathleen’, ‘Soundcheck’ and ‘Pacifier’ – and that was just the first four. They’re only onstage for an hour, but with the momentum they seem to have right now, it’d be no stretch of the imagination to see them getting later, longer slots soon. Definitely something to smile about.