Last night, Breathe Carolina made their triumphant return to Skyway Theater in Minneapolis, since last headlining The Loft in 2016. As someone who was a big fan back in highschool and throughout a good portion of college, I was definitely looking forward to the show.
I will admit that I had my reservations however, after kind of falling out with them after Kyle Evan’s departure and their shift in focus to primarily doing EDM music and DJ sets, instead of continuing to produce the perfect electronica/screamo blend that I, along with many other fans, had come to love.
I had seen Breathe Carolina live several times in the past, and was able to make a fairly decent guess as to how the night would go, though I had no clue as to what to expect with their new style of music. Regardless, I still had faith that it would be a worthwhile performance.
I arrived to the venue about an hour before the doors opened. The Skyway Theater staff was extremely accommodating and friendly, and welcomed me inside immediately. It was pretty surreal to be experiencing the pre-concert hustling and bustling from the inside of the venue, instead of waiting outside in the cold (though, mid30s in a Minnesota January isn’t exactly cold) and drowning in my own anticipation as I typically would be.
The show was held in The Loft, which is located on the fourth floor of the venue; it had a lot of character; my favorite feature being the long row of windows that lined the outer wall and overlooked the busy avenue below.
Beneath the windows in the back of the room, there were several couches that created this charming little lounging nook, alluding to the idea that this small, dimly lit, and intimate space was meant to make you feel comfortable. To top it all off, as I paced the room and prepared for the evening, I was quick to notice that the stage had no barricade (score!) which only added to the intimacy that the venue seemed to promise.
I looked down at the neon-orange wristband that had been strapped onto me and saw the phrase, “Peace, Love, & Respect” boldly stated across it. An audible sigh of relief followed, as I was reminded of the positive efforts being made towards ensuring that concerts are safe spaces.
With the mess of accusations going on in the music industry right now, I took a deep sense of comfort in knowing I was in a space that was openly promoting the ideal concert environment.
The doors opened at nine and then the show started immediately. It was such a late start for a concert that I was unsure as to whether or not Breathe Carolina would have any openers, since most shows I’ve been to end around ten or eleven, and also because when checking out the website beforehand, Skyway hadn’t mentioned any.
As it turned out, the night began with several DJs proceeding up to Breathe Carolina’s performance. These artists sampled anything from The Killers to Vengaboys, and as each new DJ took the stage, more and more concert-goers arrived at the venue, bringing more liveliness and zest along with them as they filled the room.
This crowd was unlike any other one I had experienced before; everyone was dancing and were so full of animation, life, and color! Many came armed with variations of vivid neon batons, ropes, gloves, and more, that flashed and glew in the dark as they were being twirled and tossed through the air.
Besides having attended a short set that Post Malone played this past summer at the Summer Set Music & Camping Festival, my experience with EDM shows is entirely nonexistent. So I when I walked into the venue and noticed that no one was fighting for front row or suffocating in a mosh pit I was definitely thrown off.
This show had a new and interesting vibe to it, everyone was happily dancing to themselves and it was easy to see how moving this type of music could be, it seemed like it was such a deep, personal, and indulging experience for everyone in attendance.
At about quarter to one, there was an immediate shift in energy within the crowd as Breathe Carolina finally took the stage. Of all of the performers that night, their stage presence simply could not be matched.
The high energy they brought to their performance was illuminated by frontman David Schmitt constantly jumping on all of the platforms and pumping up the crowd. I don’t believe that there was an inch on the stage that he hadn’t covered by the time their set had concluded.
Throughout the night they sampled songs anywhere from A Day to Remember’s The Downfall Of Us All to the timeless Disney favorite, Circle of Life. They had the crowd entirely encaptivated, to the point where they were able to bring each person down to their knees for several moments before allowing them to spring back up again the second the beat kicked in.
While fans were lowering to the ground David called out, “Get close, grab a friend, or a neighbor” then was quick to add and emphasize, “APPROPRIATELY!”. This was yet another reminder that concerts are meant to be safe spaces, and that bands who use their platforms in order to enforce that concept do exist. By simply adding one word to the his sentence he displayed a fantastic sense of mindfulness and awareness, and gained even more respect.
It wasn’t long before they glided into their hit remix of Rhythm Is A Dancer and the crowd absolutely lost their minds. To compliment this upbeat and playful song, a rich and radiant burst of yellow lighting filled and warmed the venue; a color that was beyond fitting for the burst of elation that permeated the crowd once the beat began to pulse.
Though I was definitely enjoying the diverse mix of samplings throughout their set, as an older fan it was an absolute thrill when they played songs off of Savages, their transitional record released in 2014.
Oftentimes when artists go through transitions of sounds, it can be difficult to create setlists that both promote their new music and also tend to the expectations and demands of older fans, a struggle that Breathe Carolina has expressed difficulty with in previous years. However, I thought that for what they are trying to accomplish now, the blend was more than sufficient, and it was great to hear familiar songs like I Don’t Know What I’m Doing and Please Don’t Say.
After several mixes which included elements from Walk The Moon’s Shut Up And Dance and G-Eazy’s No Limit, the momentum slowed and a strange lull came over the crowd. In this short moment the band essentially muttered, “anyways, here’s Wonderwall”, and actually played it as their closing song.
Let me say it one more time, Breathe Carolina ended their crazy energetic set with Wonderwall. Don’t get me wrong, it certainly is a fantastic song, but definitely not a strong closer. Regardless, though it is tough to beat an original, their remix of was refreshing and included several playful elements. Though the crowd clearly enjoyed the fun little rendition, everyone knew that there was more in store for them then that.
As soon as the music stopped and they began to walk off stage, everyone started roaring with the classic and ebullient, “one more song” chant. Without hesitation, the band delivered. They came back on stage, made the timeless “we don’t usually do this” claim just to amp the crowd up even more before finally closing out the night with a full version of Blackout. Through strained vocals and cheeky ear-to-ear grins, the entire crowd called back the lyrics at the top of their lungs, all the while, jumping and grooving with even more devotion and intensity.
Once the show was over, Breathe Carolina did not hesitate to jump off the stage and immediately begin to greet and take photos with fans, despite the fact that the staff members were trying to get everyone out of the building quickly. It was a wholesome gesture, received with gratitude from those who were eager to spend time with them or to collect memorabilia.
Overall, Breathe Carolina proved yet again that their performances are not ones where you can sit still or attend half-heartedly. They require your full attention and energy, so that they can use that as a fuel to put on an incredibly vibrant and vivacious performance each time they take the stage. Regardless of what genre of music they choose to pursue, Breathe Carolina is always worth a live performance.