Bring Me The Horizon
w/ Underoath, Beartooth
April 3 and 4, 2017
San Francisco, CA
SAN FRANCISCO, CA - Last year, I raved about the fact that there are certain tours where the entire lineup is perfect, from start to finish. Sometimes, the stars align and the ideal lineup for a tour falls right into place. If you're lucky enough, said tour will grace your town with a show. In the case of San Francisco, we were fortunate to receive not one, but two nights of perhaps the biggest metalcore tour to hit North America. Touring in support of their most recent and critically acclaimed major label debut, That's The Spirit, UK act Bring Me The Horizon took the stage in the Bay Area's Warfield Theater to deliver what is undoubtedly the grandest spectacle they've put together for a headlining run that has traversed North America. Having seen video footage of their show at Wembley Arena for a DVD they released awhile back, the only thing we really didn't get was pyro. But even without that minor aspect, this was an incredible performance, with stunning visuals and audio elements that blended together in a show that will be talked about for years to come.
But Bring Me The Horizon weren't the only group that truly sold this tour. Columbus, OH's Beartooth (fronted by former Attack! Attack! vocalist Caleb Shomo) kicked off the night, followed by a set from special guests Underoath, one of the most coveted acts within the scene.
To describe watching Beartooth perform is akin to that scene in Pulp Fiction where John Travolta sticks the adrenaline needle into Uma Thurman's heart. Remember how she immediately bolts up off the floor, running around the room with such intensity? That's how Shomo commands the audience, from literally the second he walks out onstage. Beartooth play with the attitude and animosity of an underground hardcore punk band, but with each chorus that the crowd screams back at the band, with every roar from Shomo's vocal cords into the microphone, and every fan that comes tumbling over the barricade in a crowd-surfing stupor, it's clear why they're playing bigger and bigger venues every time they hit the road. For a band that began as a side project several years ago, they seem to be doing pretty well. Their set list was comprised primarily of material from the band's sophomore album, Aggressive, while pulling two cuts from their debut album, Disgusting, which went over well with veteran fans in attendance ("Body Bag", "In Between"). (Check out our OLD interview with vocalist Caleb Shomo from back in 2013 here.)
About a half-hour goes by before the legendary Underoath take the stage. I know that I talk this band up quite a bit in any write-ups that I've done throughout the past, but seeing this band is an experience, a right of passage for anyone within the music scene. Having headlined the very same venue last year on their "Rebirth" reunion tour, performing their two biggest albums from front to back as a "welcome home" gift to their dedicated fans, it was clear that the set was going to be shorter this time around. But that didn't matter in the slightest, as the band knew that they would have no time to lose. With every member of the band moving at break-neck speed across the stage, the six-piece launched into "Everyone Looks So Good From Here", a deep cut from one of their most respected albums, Define the Great Line. The lights go out the second the track ends, and the sound of a projector is queued up, signaling the start of "In Regards To Myself", the first track off of Define. Throughout the entire forty-five minute set, the band play each note with the same amount of ferocity, vigor, and dedication as the first. A highlight of this particular show is that, since the band are indeed back, more tracks from their career that hadn't been played including "Breathing In A New Mentality" (Lost In The Sound of Separation) and "Illuminator" (Disambiguation). "We love playing for you guys, that we were thinking that maybe we should come back and do this all again next year," said vocalist Spencer Chamberlain to an emotionally-charged crowd of Underoath fans before the band concluding with "Writing On The Walls". We're holding you to it, guys.
After a break between sets, the lights go out, and the impressive stage set-up is revealed. Like something out of an electronic music show, the stage fills with images of a star-filled galaxy, bright lights like a beacon of hope in eternal darkness. The silhouettes of drummer Matt Nicholls, keyboardist/programmer Jordan Fish, and bassist Matt Kean take their respective places at the top of the ever-changing riser. Lee Malia (lead guitar) and John Jones (touring rhythm guitar) walk out next, manning their positions at the front of the crowd. A booming synth, met with percussive beats, reverberates among the screams of rabid fans as vocalist Oliver Sykes walks out onstage, facing the crowd, readying them for what's about to happen. The drumbeat kicks in, with a chant of "S-P-I-R-I-T! Spirit! Let's hear it!" signaling the start of "Happy Song", the second track from That's The Spirit. When the band kicks in, a mess of CO2 cannons, confetti, and brightly colored streamers are launched into the crowd. We're in Bring Me The Horizon's world now.
To anybody who thought that this band may have gotten "soft" on their last record, which featured clean vocals for the very first time in their five-album career, you're dead wrong. While the days of Suicide Season BMTH may be gone (although "Chelsea Smile" is still a staple within their modern-day set list), their intensity has far from dissipated. The cuts from 2013's Sempiternal proved to showcase the heaviest tracks of the night, pushing the crowd to the near brink of chaos with a wall of death, stunning visuals, tight instrumentation, and gang vocals that could inspire a call to action if desired. They're an astounding act to watch.
But even with tracks from That's The Spirit, Bring Me The Horizon proved that as a metal band, you don't have to be extremely heavy, screaming every vocal line, twenty-four/seven. You can have more delicate and emotional moments, and tracks like "Drown" and "True Friends" show just how far this group have grown as musicians. When you look back at their first release, the deathcore fueled Count Your Blessings, it's even more amazing to think that this is the same band. "Throne", the third track from That's The Spirit is even more emotionally heavy-hitting in a live environment, as the chorus takes Syke's vocals, chopping them up with sequencers and effects, making it a chorus that begs to be sung by a full crowd.
As the final confetti rain cascades down among the Warfield's floor, and the fans make their way out of the exit into the San Francisco night, I don't think anyone can help but hope that they come back to the Bay Area just a little bit sooner.
Bring Me The Horizon Set List:
Go To Hell, For Heaven's Sake
The House of Wolves
Can You Feel My Heart
Underoath Set List:
Everyone Looks So Good From Here
In Regards To Myself
It's Dangerous Business Walking Out Your Front Door
A Moment Suspended In Time
A Boy Brushed Red Living In Black and White
Breathing In A New Mentality
Emergency Broadcast :: The End Is Near
There Could Be Nothing After This
Reinventing Your Exit
Writing On The Walls
Beartooth Set List:
Sick of Me
Fair Weather Friend