Following the release of the 2014 debut album Disgusting, hardcore punk quintet Beartooth have toured relentlessly including sets at Slam Dunk, Download and Reading & Leeds, with their current UK tour seeing them play their biggest headline shows here since their formation in 2012…so obviously I jumped at the chance to catch them for the first time, in one of the city’s newest live music venues.
Lincoln based, melodic hardcore newcomers Blood Youth kicked things off with a set which gave us exactly the kind of thing you want to see from an opening band. Vocalist, Kaya Tarsus encouraged the crowd to jump and move around as well as doing plenty of that himself. Even with doors being at 6pm and these guys on shortly after, there was a reasonable sized crowd who responded well to his asks so much so that he made his way into the pit to get up close and personal with the first couple of rows. The others in the band (previously known as Climates until the departure of their vocalist and the addition of Tarsus) showed tremendous energy and movement throughout, keeping me on my toes as a photographer! Despite some issues with feedback, Blood Youth’s sound was mature beyond its’ age, and for a band who have only been together for 8 months I expect us to be hearing more from them in future.
Next up was American rock duo, ’68. With less of a tempo than the Blood Youth boys who have just left the stage, vocalist/guitarist Josh Scogin and Drummer, Michael McClellan jam their way through a set which is full of mighty guitar, powerful vocals, crashing drums and foot stomping, not to mention the unquestionable chemistry between the two musicians, whose setup on stage was different to any I’d seen before. (Asking the lighting designer to refrain from using strobe lighting because they’re “not that kind of band” is also something I’ve not seen before!) Scogin and McClellan shared a long handshake before their last song, which saw the guitar teasing the drums before a big, built up rock ’n’ roll finish.
Then it was time for Beartooth. The hyped-up Glasgow crowd with their anthemic “Here we, here we…” chant were ready for what was to follow. Taking to the stage and met with an ear bursting roar, the band launched into “The Lines”, the first track from their debut full length. Let the crowd-surfing commence. Frontman, Caleb Shomo appears to immediately absorb the energy in the room and use it to his advantage, encouraging they jump along to the massive chorus. The others in the band follow, displaying energy levels that can surely only last the first couple of songs?
Wrong. After a few more, and a reminder to everyone that “its been a while…” since they last performed in the city, the band blast into crowd favourite “In Between” – well contrasted between gritty, fast-paced verses and a clean, soaring chorus. The next song, “Keep Your American Dream” is introduced by proclaiming that it’s not their most popular song and may not mean a lot to anyone but that it means a lot to the band themselves. If this crowd’s reaction is anything to go by, it definitely is popular – there was plenty of singing along when the mic was turned out and a plethora of circle pits breaking out in the small warehouse venue.
It’s a delight to watch a band who genuinely enjoy playing their music, and Beartooth are just that. For “Pick Your Poison”, the band are joined on stage by Josh of ’68 who bellows out the final lines of the song while Shomo makes his way into the pit, much to the crowd’s sweaty satisfaction. After this, he confesses that the next song is supposed to be their last but that they’re going to play an extra one because they’re having such a great time. Fine by us! They blast their way through the sneaky addition, followed by “Beaten In Lips” – a song about the struggles of kids dealing with abuse which lyrically is poignant and commands a call to action “Keep living loud and proud”.
Lastly, they encore with “Body Bag”, another crowd favourite and dedicate it to their tour buddies Blood Youth and ’68. Finishing up before 9pm, Beartooth leave the crowd buzzing, smiling and still crying out “Here we, here we…”, even after the lights come up.
All photos by Lara Fullerton