Wait, what am I doing. I can’t be devoting an entire post to a single, 45 minute set of a band that has at this point only dropped one EP and one studio album can I? You bet your sweet, metal asses I am. I can’t go into the fuzzy details of how I made the decision to dedicate one entire post to this band, but I found myself have far too much to say about them to only dedicate a small section to them. I was already excited to see them going into the festival, but the experience I had was…..changing. So why don’t you guys join me as I recount this primal experience of watching Beartooth perform live.
I got to the Coors Light stage roughly twenty minutes before the band Beartooth was supposed to come on. This band is a stalwart favorite among the Honest Brutality crew. They were on my personal list of bands I definitely needed to see while I was here. As I got to the stage, I noticed two striking differences from the Suicidal Tendencies set I had just witnessed. First, there weren’t a lot of people here. I realized I had shown up fairly early in a festival that has a schedule that is completely back to back from start to finish, but still. Only 20 minutes before their set and there are maybe eighty to one hundred people hanging around. All of them here to see Beartooth, and most of them were enormous fans like myself. One particular fellow even had their symbol shaved into the side of his head. This obviously isn’t the same level of dedication as say, a rabid Slayer fan, however it is obvious that this musical group speaks to people on such a level to evoke similar styles of zeal. The second thing I noticed, was the average age this crowd compared to the one I was in previously. Most of the fans here seemed to be quite a bit younger than even myself, which caught me by surprise. It was at this point that a nice young lady became curious about all the rubber bracelets I was wearing. We struck up a conversation and I handed her a few for her and her friend. As took a glance at my phone and realized it was only 5 minutes until show time. Out of curiosity I stood on my toes to glance around the crowd. As far as I can see, there are people packed into the small field before the stage, and in the same density packed onto the hill. From the crest of that knoll, all the way down to the rails of the stage, there were people eagerly waiting for this band to play. It hit me that maybe this band had been a bit underestimated when it came to the decision of their placement in the festival. From the mass gathering of humanity that had appeared in the span of 5 minutes, I bet these guys could have easily filled the areas that much larger and more renowned bands were playing at this festival. It actually baffles me that Beartooth was placed on the smallest stage out on the edge of the event. My thoughts were interrupted however; as my back was turned I was slapped with double strike of bass drums and a crunching guitar riff. It was time.
I must admit that the majority of this performance is kind of a blur to me. I was caught up in the beatiful fervor that accompanies seeing such and aggressive, talented, and energetic performance. Personally, this set was one of my highlights of the Aftershock 2015. The energy wasn’t just in the band though, the crowd was absolutely insane. Previously I spoke about being shuffled and moved in the Suicidal Tendencies audience, yet that did nothing to prepare me for this experience. Mr. Caleb Shomo may be one of the best front men I have ever seen live. His ability to whip his crowd into a fury and have complete participation from those close to the stage is impressive to say the least. At one point I remember him saying that he didn’t want a single person in this crowd standing still. I’m not sure about all the people towards the back of the field or the hill, but from where I was he got his wish and more. At this point I was simultaneously headbanging, screaming my lungs out, and actively avoiding the unpredictable mosh pits that were opening and closing like wormholes in the void of space. I’m fairly certain I may have taken a crowd surfer to the back of my head as well. Which reminds me of the third striking thing that caught me about this crowd.
Most of the people around me (being noticeably younger than myself, mind you) were not at all experienced enough to be savvy in a metal show crowd with this much chaos and excitement. I saw several crowd surfers fall, as the uncertain people below them wondered how they were supposed to deal with a person going above them. I remember one small guy (I mean small as in half my height and my weight, maybe a bit larger…maybe) who found himself being on the border of a mosh pit. He had his back turned to it and was visibly distressed at being slammed into from behind. I swapped him places and mentioned that it’s normally best to face TOWARDS a pit that opens near you. Now, I mention these points as if they might be a bad thing, but they weren’t. In all of these mishaps and accidents, I did not see a single person that wasn’t beaming and smiling from being a part of this. Amidst the thrashing, crashing, and bashing mayhem, every one had a big smile on their face as we all, and I repeat this, as ALL of us in the crowd shouted along word for word with Mr. Shomo.
The show ended, and I was drenched in sweat, mostly my own, but probably not all of it. I stumbled to the nearest trashcan to have a small funeral for my sunglasses that got shattered and busted about 10 minutes into the show. I found some shade under a tree and lid under it for a minute. All the while still wondering how such a band was put on this particular stage, when they have such a massive, zealous, and furious fan base. Beartooth will definitely be making a big name for itself in the next few years. I will bet anyone money on this.