Photos by Jade Falconer for Musicology, at Southampton 13/12/16
Beartooth are one of the most prominent bands in the metalcore scene at the moment, with vocalist Caleb Shomo (ex-Attack Attack!) driving them harder then ever before. The band recently released their second album Aggressive, and they’re currently wrapping up the last few dates of the UK/EU leg of the tour. It’s been a monstrous set of dates, with the band arriving in Cardiff on day 78, but more than ready to give Wales the show it deserved.
Up first were Trash Boat. In some senses the odd one out of the bill, these UK pop punkers made a staunch effort to provide the energy required to open up this heavy evening. Those who had seen Trash Boat before might have been slightly surprised by a heavier performance from the band, with a set-list carefully selected to provide an energetic and enthusiastic performance. Vocalist Tobi Duncan turned some of the already harsher vocal elements into throaty screams, and they didn’t sound bad at all. The St. Albans quintet did admirably well to appeal to a crowd somewhat at odds with pop punk, though a small but tight knot of fans belted back every word. [7/10]
Boston post-hardcore unit Vanna took to the stage second to play a set largely consisting of their latest album All Hell. By no means was the response to these songs disappointing, but aside from fan favourite Flower there was a markedly better reaction to the band’s older material. Vanna had the attitude of a band who know what they’re doing, and they upped the crowd interaction exponentially. Vocalist Davey Muise had fans putting their horns in the air, fists up, and swaying side to side. In some senses this went a little far, but to the dedicated fans of Vanna it was all part of an exceptional package. Set-closer Digging brought their last night on tour crashing to a euphoric close. [8/10]
There was no doubt that the vast majority of the crowd turned up for Beartooth. Solid supports or not, the metalcore quadruplet were the kings that evening. They began their set with a seismic rendition of Burnout, one of Aggressive’s most… well, aggressive songs.
Beartooth somewhat front-loaded their set with their bigger singles from both albums. The likes of Aggressive (title track) and Beaten In Lips were played early on in the evening, whipping fans into a frenzy. As the gig went on, Beartooth’s set-list turned to the more rock-orientated ballads hailing from Aggressive.
For the penultimate track, King of Anything, the band left the stage for Shomo to take up the guitar and provide a crooning solo performance. Whilst his performance was respectable, the placement halted the momentum of the gig just before the intense climax offered by Beaten In Lips.
Overall, Beartooth’s show was musically proficient, holding tight to their recorded material with all the energy of a live show to match it. Aside from a distasteful snare sound, there was little to be disappointed by their show. It was the interaction between sets that was overworked. Shomo did all he could to bring the stadium rock package to Cardiff, encouraging light-waving, rock horns up and the vomit inducing phrase “by my calculations, it’s half past fucking riff o’clock!”. This excessive showmanship somewhat soured an otherwise enjoyable performance. [7/10]