If there is one band that the “here we, here we, here we fucking go!| of Glaswegian infamy feels appropriate in anticipation of, it is surely Beartooth. Since Caleb Shomo abandoned the keyboards and confused identity of Attack Attack! in 2013, the blistering hardcore of his current project has been one of the most exciting things on the live circuit. With two albums now under their belt following the release of ‘Aggressive’ in June, Glasgow hosted the third instalment of a nine-date tour, which were Beartooth’s biggest UK shows yet.
The two chosen support acts are somewhat accurate representations of the two main components of Beartooth’s sonic make-up – the first being the raw, punky but melodic racket of Trash Boat. The quintet are one of a plethora of pop-punk acts to have recently made a significant impact in the UK, fronted by Tobi Duncan, who is an awkward, lanky and unnatural lead singer – but there’s a certain likability to his performance; raw and real. Ragged renditions of songs old and new are afforded a considerable reception – indicating why Trash Boat are able to land slots such as this. (3/5)
Boasting considerably more hair – facial and otherwise – Boston metallers Vanna take to the stage. An initially mute reaction (besides the trend of merchandise worn) suggests that Beartooth’s fanbase is more Four Year Strong than Every Time I Die, but the sell-out Garage is soon won over. Next to scrawny Trash Boat, Vanna are a fearsome macho presence, all lumberjack caps, handlebar moustaches and Metallica t-shirts. Davey Muise similarly contrasts Duncan as a rip-roaring frontman, but apologises for the inconvenience of putting up with their “American asses”. A rapturous ovation greets the end of an impressive set regardless, and everyone is suitably pumped for the main event. (4/5)
While ‘Aggressive’ met with mixed reception in comparison to 2014’s sublime ‘Disgusting’, it is the kind of record, and Beartooth are the kind of band, that gains a distinct potency live. ‘Burnout’ is among the most skippable tracks on the album, yet is a charged and blistering opener here. Stronger new numbers ‘Hated’ and ‘Loser’ explode into chaotic mosh pits, and Shomo even ventures into the centre of the crowd for ‘Always Dead’’s brutal breakdown – as does guitarist Kamron Bradbury, atop the shoulders of a frankly gigantic man.
As the voice, soul, brains and guts of the outfit, Shomo is the archetypal natural-born performer. While his songs address personal issues such as anxiety, depression and addiction, he confidently struts the stage in all black, charismatic and immediately likeable, and when he states that he “fucking loves playing Glasgow” you know he means it. ‘I Have A Problem’ is the best song on ‘Disgusting’ and addresses the struggles of alcoholism – already a vicious track, Shomo pours every sinew into his visceral screams, turning it into an even more startling slice of self-loathing.
Beartooth’s default setting is fast and furious, so when he leads the encore alone with a guitar for ‘King Of Anything’, it’s an effective change of pace. The regularly scheduled mayhem returns with the furious ‘Body Bag’, and a sweaty Shomo bids farewell, reiterating that this has been his favourite show of the tour thus far. It’s something bands say a lot – but there’s a genuine gratitude in his voice. Emphatic. (5/5)
Words by Peter Stewart (@PeteStew_)