A never ending queue kicks off my first time at Birmingham’s 02 Institute, with fans young and old eager for a night of undeniable heaviness. US Hardcore favourites Beartooth are nearing the end of a jam packed European tour, with the last few stops here in the UK.
Opening the night, St Albans pop punk outfit Trash Boat. Despite being a fan, the crowd is less responsive than I’d have hoped for. Frontman Tobi Duncan attempts to rally the crowd, but lacks in his vocal abilities, with the three weeks previous on the road seeming to take its toll. However, the enthusiasm is evident, paired with their familiar gritty angst. A clean cut sound throughout the set, as well as Duncan’s personable approach makes up for the lacking vocal aspects. Showcasing songs from their debut, ‘Nothing I Write You Can Change What You’ve Been Through’ definitely put forward a more defined and sophisticated outlook for the southern quintet, whilst nailing the incessantly raw sound we’ve become so familiar with. Closing hit Strangers is the strongest aspect of the set, highlighting the talent within the current UK pop punk scene.
Only having heard one single from Boston-based hardcore Vanna, I was eager to see what direction their music would take. Frontman Davey Muise somewhat explodes as soon as he comes onstage, smashing straight into first song Paranoia Euphoria. The whole set is comprised of hard hitting riffs and the familiar hard/clean mixture of vocals we see so often in this scene with bands like the Amity Affliction and Alexisonfire. A pop punk influence is somewhat evident throughout their set also, with jump-about choruses and clean vocals present from start to end. A very strong backlog of singles from recent release All Hell makes this performance an unforgettable one. Muise’s somewhat destructive and vicious stage presence takes this band from good to great, with fan favourite Flower emphasising the rawness of his approach. His undeniable energy had the crowd hooked from the off, who were silenced every time he spoke to the crowd. It’s clear this band are a fan favourite, with Muise preaching his thanks throughout the set. Old fans however, may have to wait for a Vanna headline tour to hear anything released before 2014, due to the copious amount of new material within the setlist.
Having two impressive support acts always creates added pressure for the headliner to perform. However, opening with Burnout meant Beartooth had the crowd on lockdown from the off, creating an indescribable mix of mosh and sing along. The mix of ages signified experience of the pit, as well as uncontrollable energy from the younger generations. Playing a perfect balance of hits from each album (Disgusting, and recent release Aggressive) kept fans at ease, and showcased the bands progression within the past few years. It’s nice to see some aspects of their live show kept the same through the years, with the crowd sitting down for the build up to The Lines. These small details are what keeps Beartooth’s fans coming back for more. As well as the excitement, frontman Caleb Shomo’s clean vocals were nothing short of impressive, with slower songs such as King Of Anything sending the crowd into an intense singalong. Shomo made the set seem especially personal, with small conversations with the crowd between songs, discussing the personal aspects behind the lyrics. This sincerity clearly appeals to the majority, with the crowd cheering following every sentence. Closing with Bodybag meant chaos from the front to back of the Institute; the perfect send off for the guys.
This show, for me, has highlighted the levels this band have reached and surpassed within the UK, from playing 100 capacity venues to selling out the Institute. The momentum behind this band is proving huge, and not capable of slowing down any time soon.
Photo Credit: Ryan Winstanley