Beartooth is immortal. The observation stems from the mantra, “I’m destined for greatness or death,” off of their latest album Disease. In the aptly named track “Greatness or Death,” frontman Caleb Shomo proselytizes the idea that it’s either greatness or death. Logically then, he and the other guys are simply immortal. They have achieved so much greatness in their latest album, in an addition to an even greater live performance, that one can assume that if an absence of greatness leads to death, then an abundance leads to immortality, right? In that case, they’ll simply never die.
Saturday, Oct. 20th at the House of Blues the guys of Beartooth personified this idea of “greatness or death” with an otherworldly performance. The experience began long before the full band actually took the stage. Opening band Knocked Loose continued with their show even without their vocalist Bryan Garris, who returned home from tour in order to deal with a family emergency. Their set began with guitarist Isaac Hale screaming through “All My Friends”. However, Jayden Panesso and Miguel Cardona of Sylar along with bassist Oshie Bichar, guitarist Kamron Bradbury, guitarist Zach Huston, and Shomo of Beartooth, stepped in and assisted with the other songs. The result? A high energy, heavy, jam session where it was clear everybody was having a good time – the crowd included. The guys were smiling and throwing it down while the crowd consisted of a sizable pit and unending crowd surfers.
The crowd surfing during Knocked Loose though was nothing compared to the rush of people that flowed through the space between the bar and the stage as each person would conclude their surf and run through to head back and jump in the waves of people to do it all again. “You guys are out of your f-cking minds. You’re incredible tonight!” said Shomo when talking to the crowd.
The energy was electric. The crowd though was only returning the gift that Beartooth gave them. If one looked closely enough (or micro-dosed just enough LSD), they could see the actual currents of electricity coursing from Beartooth into the crowd and back from the crowd to the guys. Everyone was riding the lightning. Right before performing “The Lines” off of Disgusting, Shomo said, “When it hits you know what to do.” This exemplifies the exchange before the band and the concert goers. Everyone knew what to do during the entire non-stop show.
It’s a marvel how drummer Connor Denis had the energy to keep up with this electrifying, fast paced, non-stop performance. Bichar, Bradbury, Huston, and Shomo were afforded two little breaks when Denis had two different drum solos. Other than the emotional and profoundly moving introduction to “Disease” though, Denis was go, go, go the entire time. He doesn’t simply keep time either. Listen to “The Lines” and “Manipulation” and you’ll see. Not only is he a human metronome, but he completes the space in between beats with brilliant fills. It must be exhausting, but one could never tell by watching him. Denis delivered one of his amazing drum solos right after “The Lines” and before “Manipulation.” There were lots of claps in just the right places coming from the audience. It was the perfect segue and the crowd loved it. Bichar killed it in “Manipulation” as he sang along with Shomo, “You broke me down. So you could take me out.” The guitar riffs in that song were amazing as well.
Other songs that the guys performed on Saturday where the guitar shined were “You Never Know,” which has a yummy staccato thing going on, “Fire,” which has a hard driving, fast moving riff in the break downs, and “Bad Listener,” that has a dirty, raw sound to it. “Bad Listener” was the first song of the set. At the sound of the first dirty notes, the crowd was already bouncing and singing along. “No structure. No prisoners. I’m not deaf, I’m just a real bad listener,” were among the loudest words being offered from the audience. Singing along it was like everyone was in agreement that
“We’ve been deceived the same by the powers that be. We’re sold out to perfection but it will not come cheap. Maybe I love it, but I’d rather believe. I’m just breaking the surface and you will never stop me.”
The line “We’re sold out to perfection” is key. It’s a common theme in several songs. Shomo expanded on this during his introduction to “Disease.”
Right after “Hated” off of Aggressive , Shomo sang, “Who knew you’d be hated for being who you are. And be a big target for all the insecure,” as he stood on the stage all alone, by himself, holding onto the microphone for what seemed like dear life, as he conquered his own insecurities and talked about what it’s like to attack one’s own self. He asked for a couple of quiet minutes from the crowd. This doesn’t seem like much, but with the electric energy coursing through the show, it took a minute for everyone to quiet down. However, once they did, the only audible noise outside of the guitar riffing in the background, as Shomo opened himself up, was the sound of sniffles as some of the audience wiped their eyes and others held tears back.
The album Disease had been in the making for about a year and a half. It was a record that Shomo had “always been too scared to write because this sh-t is really personal to [him].” This sh-t is mental illness. He shared how “Disease” is about his disease. He shared how he set out to really figure out why he has “this voice in [his] head and this ache in [his] chest that this world would be better off with [him] dead.” These are motifs that listeners can hear in many songs, but especially in “Loser,” where he sings, “I was born a little bit different.” During this journey, he confirmed what he espouses in “Loser,” which is that he was simply born a little bit different and that he will always go through this. Music is what provides him relief. He pleaded with the crowd, that if they feel the same, to find what makes them feel better. Gratitude was shared as he told the audience how they have saved his life. The speech was so raw, so beautiful, and so heartfelt that it provoked goosebumps and tears as he told everyone, “Please don’t go.”
After all of the tears and “Disease,” Shomo asked, “Mind if we play another new one?” Shomo brought out his guitar and they played “Fire.” Bichar twirled. Everyone got lower and then higher. It was, in fact, fire (sorry). “In Between” was the last song the guys played. The crowd sang along and filled in the blanks. “In Between” wasn’t the closer though, as House of Blues turned on the “you don’t have to go home, but you can’t stay here music.”
It would be a mistake not to mention the “Rock Is Dead” performance. The drums were insane. The guitar shredding was so beautiful that Shomo pelvic thrusted in the direction of the guitar – a feeling he shared with everyone else present. This is when Denis smashed his second drum solo. This song didn’t end the night, and if it weren’t for the venue turning on the house lights the show probably wouldn’t have ended. That’s why this song is the perfect example of the fire, immortal, electrifying performance of Beartooth. All of the guys shine musically. Shomo sings,
“If I make sound, it better be loud
Till my voice is blowing out
What if one day everything changed
Will these words have any use to me
I didn’t make it here to let anyone drag me down
If I make sound, it better be loud
If rock and roll’s dead you can kill me right now”
Their performance combined with the energy and love of the crowd proves that rock and roll is not dead. Therefore, again, Beartooth proved on Saturday, Oct. 20th that they are simply immortal.