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Beartooth and Breakdowns

The sold-out show that rocked Varsity Theater

Caleb Shomo of Beartooth Varsity Theatre Disease Tour November 14 2018
Caleb Shomo of Beartooth Fist Bumps a Fan by Katie Ahrens

Hardcore fans flooded a sold-out Varsity Theater Wednesday night in anticipation of seeing the perfect rock n’ roll trifecta: Sylar, Knocked Loose, and Beartooth.

Though I usually go to lighter pop-punk shows, there’s no doubt I was excited about this incredible lineup and that I was looking forward to some heavy rock music to shake away the chills of the upcoming winter months (yuck).

Varsity is decked with string lights and chandeliers and is complemented by a bathroom that is split in half so strangely that you can’t quite tell whether it’s awkward or edgy.

I talked to another fan about how this place seemed almost too ritzy for a hard rock concert, but by the end of our discussion we ultimately decided that it made for a great challenge; who can rock hard enough to make the giant disco ball in the center fall and shatter?

Amused, I was ready.

I’m always super interested in the crowds that certain bands attract. This is something that is mildly irrelevant but always seems to call my attention anyways. 

This crowd was what you’d expect for a hardcore show. It was primarily comprised of edgy gauged kids dressed in shadows with a few try-hard youngsters and some overly supportive and unsuspecting moms sprinkled in.

Regardless of their background or demographic, everyone was singing along to the music blaring over the speakers as we waited for the show to begin. 

Linkin Park was playing overhead right before the opening band, Sylar, came out. For me, it set a solemn tone, as it always does when I hear their old music and think about the tragic loss of Chester Bennington back in the summer of 2017.

I grew hopeful that the opener could come out and shatter the lonely inner memorial I was evidently having side stage.

Dustin Jennings of Sylar Varsity Theatre Disease Tour November 14 2018
Dustin Jennings of Sylar by Katie Ahrens

Sylar did not disappoint.

These guys came out no holds barred, full throttle, and completely blew my mind.

They were the only band on the tour that I hadn’t heard of before or seen live prior, and I spent the majority of their set wondering why I hadn’t been exposed to their music earlier.

Sylar reawakened my love for this genre of music within seconds of hitting the stage.

Though their set as a whole was enjoyable, I was especially impressed by their closing song, as it had this interesting mix of hardcore riffs and screams with EDM electrified DJ record scratches in the background.

I’m really hoping that these guys come around again in the future. I’d be sure to see them again if given the chance!

Check out Sylar here!

Bryan Garris of Knocked Loose Varsity Theatre Disease Tour November 14 2018
Bryan Garris of Knocked Loose by Katie Ahrens

Knocked Loose took to the stage next, and much like Sylar, they left no room for audience members to stop for a breather.

This band is energizing as all get out and the response they generate among music-lovers is incredible, whether those in the audience know their music or not.

Frontman Bryan Garris has a scream that in pitch is set a little higher than most, setting him apart from others in the scene. No worries, it is beyond effective, and it isn’t so high-pitched that you’ll relive your long lost Brokencyde days *cringe* – thank goodness.

These guys didn’t slow down once, even when they said that they would. One of the best examples of this was when Garris called out to the crowd to let them know how to prepare for the upcoming slow song, then immediately broke out into another fast-paced jam! Psych!

“This is a slow song! Everyone move up, and everyone hold hands!”

– Knocked Loose frontman, Bryan Garris, before breaking into something that definitely wasn’t a slow song at all, not even a little bit.

Something cool about Knocked Loose is that they are incredibly kind to their fanbase, something that was demonstrated by their interactions that night. The band made sure to make themselves available after the show to talk and to take photos, which as a fan, is always exciting.

If you’re not on the Knocked Loose train yet, you definitely should be!

Check them out here!

Beartooth Varsity Theater Disease Tour November 14 2018
Beartooth by Katie Ahrens

Beartooth took the stage at 9 PM with that same familiar energy and zest. Simply put, Beartooth slaps, rocks, bops, or does whatever it is that the kids are saying these days.

I was lucky enough to catch these guys on Warped Tour in 2015 when they were blowing up in the scene and was immediately turned on to the way they present themselves in a live setting.

Though their stage presence hasn’t changed, I found myself distracted this time around as my attention was pulled into something remarkable that was happening within the audience.

Caleb Shomo of Beartooth Varsity Theater Disease Tour November 14 2018
Caleb Shomo of Beartooth by Katie Ahrens

Towards the outer edge of the venue, there were two young boys, who couldn’t have been any older than ten or twelve.

Throughout the night I had caught sneaking peaks backstage and whispering to each other about which members of Beartooth they had seen walk by.

Their reaction to every little thing that was happening within the setting was so pure, and refreshing. And it only got better for our two young fans.

beartooth varsity theater vans disease tour November 14 2018
The Biggest Smallest Fans by Katie Ahrens

If you ask me, they were given the ultimate fan experience, as the security guards were kind enough to let them go all the way up to the front and watch Beartooth’s set from up there – how cool!

They continued to dance harder than anyone I’d seen there, which was phenomenal because young fans are inspiring and so important.

If those awesome little dudes happen upon this article I hope that they know that they rock!

Beartooth Varsity Theater Disease Tour Crowd surfer November 14 2018
Beartooth by Katie Ahrens

Beartooth played a fantastic mix of songs off of their newest album, Disease, as well as plenty of older favorites off of their first full-length album, Disgusting. It was the perfect blend for old and new fans alike.

Throughout the night, frontman, Caleb Shomo teased fans and pushed them to give more, which eventually ended up leading towards about a half a million crowd surfers flying across the room within the time constraints of just one song.

My favorite part of the night, was when Shomo decided to make himself one of them.

“OPEN THAT SH*T UP IM COMING IN!”

– Caleb Shomo before being willingly devoured by the mosh pit

If I had one criticism of the night it would be when Shomo spent a little bit too long being sad and tearing up as he expressed his struggles during his battle with depression in a melancholy and almost unauthentic monologue.

This was meant as a segway into their song Disease; an idea that the whole album and current tour is based around.

This interaction was awkward and lasted too long for it to feel comfortable, even though it was backed by good intentions.

Beartooth Varsity Theater Disease Tour November 14 2018
Beartooth by Katie Ahrens

Regardless of any tension that moment may have caused, the rest of their set continued to be a fantastic experience, filled with passion, sick riffs, and hard-hitting lyrical screams. It was good to see Beartooth again!

Check them out here if you haven’t already!

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