Last night, hundreds of energetic harcore fans packed the floor of a SOLD OUT Varsity theater for a high energy and show featuring a stacked lineup of Sylar, Knocked Loose and Beartooth. Beartooth are currently touring in support of their new album Disease featuring some of the bands most intricate and well-produced songs to date. Disease was released this past September and immediately garnered a lot of positive traction for the band.
There was an unmistakable buzz for Beartooth’s arrival in Minneapolis, as the cold temperatures did not deter the die-hards from lining up at the Varsity well before doors opened. As I made my way into the venue I found myself at a crossroads while looking for a place to stand: to mosh, or not to mosh? That is the question. After seeing The Menzingers (one of my personal favorite bands) last night at the same venue, I was feeling pretty sore from a night of jumping and screaming. Respecting the pleas from my aching knees and bruised forearms, I decided to play it a litter safer this evening with a nice view from the rear.
The evening was set to begin and the first band on the bill was Sylar. Sylar is an American rock band from Queens, New York City and who boast a unique sound blending mixes of metalcore, nu metal and hardcore together. I have never seen Sylar before, so I was interested to see what they would bring to the table. Their production sound is heavily inspired by Caleb Shomo of Beartooth, so I was curious to see if their live performance would stack up. Without hesitation, they came on the stage and immediately won the crowd over. Lead singer Jayden Panesso rose to the task of being an entertaining front man, as he did not stand still the entire set. He was and incredibly engaging with the audience and made sure everyone there was locked into their performance having a good time. Sylar played a steady mix of newer and older songs, featuring heavy riffage and powerful dynamics. Overall, their set did not feel quite long enough. I’ll look forward to catching these guys again sometime.
Next up was Kentucky hardcore heavyweights Knocked Loose. Knocked Loose are a band I have been wanting to see for awhile, so I was feeling pumped up before their set. Sure enough, they did not disappoint. The band came out packing heavy punches, getting the crowd moving right off the bat. I was impressed by their tight, heavy riffage and stage presence. The band played fast and loud like they had nothing to lose. Lead singer Bryan Garris fervently screamed his vocals into the mic with a contagious passion and raw angst. I loved watching them perform. The 40 some minutes they were on stage I was captivated by how heavy they were. It was like hardcore with a punked out attitude. Their high-power set featured bangers including “Oblivions Peak”, “Counting Worms” and “All My Friends.”
To my delight (and surprise), the wait time between set changes did not deprive fans of any energy. When it was time for Beartooth to take the stage, the crowd was fired up and ready to go. As soon as the lights went dim, the audience went nuts. I was certainly impressed by the crowds stamina, given that there was already a heavy amount of moshing and movement for the previous two bands. There was even a plentiful amount of crowd surfing throughout the entire night. The entire crowd was like a sea of jumping bodies. In addition to the active crowd participation, Beartooth’s stage show was phenomenal, featuring electrifying green, red and orange strobe lights flickering all night long.
One of the things I’ve grown to appreciate about Beartooth is frontman and lead vocalist Caleb Shomo’s work ethic and musical talent. Shomo does just about everything for the band by himself, including vocals, guitar parts, bass, drums, and percussion. He even mixes and produces the albums almost exclusively by himself. He is almost like a one man wrecking-crew with a team of other talented musicians backing him up. During the show, Shomo displayed an impressive range of growling and clean vocals. He is an unmistakably natural born showman and certainly left the crowd craving more.
While the band were incredibly heavy, they allowed plenty of room for grooving and dancing. They hammered out a 16-song set including the encore that spanned around an hour and a half. Usually metal/hardcore bands cap their sets under and hour, but Beartooth was all business and was not ready to pack it in without a fight. Some of the best songs of the night included “Infection”, “You Never Know”, “Hated” and encore finale “In Between.”
However, before they ended the main set, Shomo quieted the crowd down for an incredibly emotional speech before playing their album titled track “Disease”. He spoke of emotional pain, sadness, and depression, and his constant battle with mental illness. He offered a source of inspiration for the crowd, sharing solidarity for anyone struggling with their thoughts to know they are not going through the battle alone. His words were sincere, and it was a very personally vulnerable moment in the set.
Overall after last night’s show, it’s easy to tell why Beartooth are currently gaining so much traction. The band is red hot right now — and a must see live spectacle. Caleb Shomo clearly cares about his fans, and I expect them to continue to climb the charts and dominate the rock scene for the next few months to come.
Editor’s Note: Sorry to say that Beartooth restricted press to their own tour photographer so Alexa, our photographer, did not get a chance capture them.