Richmond, VA – The lights dimmed and the countdown began, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2…. ignition complete, we have a Beartooth liftoff!! A punk metal meltdown had commenced on May 16, 2023 at the National in Richmond, VA.
As Beartooth kicked off the headliners with a powerful “Devastation“, the shirtless Caleb Shomo (lead vocals) presented an air of an overly punk version of Iggy Pop (on steroids). The launch pad was hot!! Not to be outdone the rest of the band, Oshie Bichar (bass), Connor Denis (drums), Zach Huston (guitar), and Will Deely (guitar) were adding to the head banging heat.
Beartooth was new to me. Even though I had heard some of their music, I was not prepared for the raw power they had with their audience. I went in cold but the heat on stage was burning me up. All one had to do is look around and every head at the National was moving in unison to hard core metal.
After “Body Bag” the photographers had to leave the pit and I decided to head upstairs. On a typical National night, the upstairs (VIP area) is usually crowded with a healthy GA audience downstairs. There were not many upstairs on this night but the floor was packed!! It did not take too long to find out why as moshers were in full force with circles opening and closing, almost like watching a metal vortex sucking them in and again spitting them out. It was a blast!!
Their set included other songs, such as “Bad Listener“, “Riptide”, and finished with “The Last Riff“, liftoff had been successful and the National was about to enter a metal orbit. Trivium was ready to take over.
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Beaten in Lips
You Never Know
The Past Is Dead
The Last Riff
Up until this point, the liftoff had been powerful and chaotic. When Trivium took the stage, it was somewhat more subdued (on a scale of 1 to 10, where 10 is max overdrive, Trivium was about a 12, down from the Beartooth 15).
Matt Heafy (guitar, lead vocals) was much less mobile than his Beartooth counterpart but nailed “Rain“. That is not to say the energy was low, on the contrary, energy has to be high to maintain orbit, it was just less chaotic. Less chaos also seemed to be the theme for the rest of the band, consisting of Corey Beaulieu (guitar), Paolo Gregoletto (bass), and Alex Bent (drums) as their moves seemed somewhat more choreographed (in a good way). The band chemistry was strong.
Their interaction with the near sold out National was also different. Early on, Matt challenged the audience to outdo their best audience of the tour, who hailed from the metal Mecca, Hampton Beach, NH. We were up for the challenge.
With a little “Feast of Fire” we were heading to a full blown meltdown and there was no turning back. “Down from the Sky” was a clue that critical mass had been reached and we would soon be leaving orbit, but the audience was not ready to give in yet. The Hampton Beach challenge was in full swing
As hot as it was, one could take “Until the World Goes Cold” as a harbinger foretelling of the end of the set. They would be wrong. Even after they finished the set with “No Way Back Just Through” and “The Heart From Your Hate“, the audience was not ready to let them go.
The stage went dark and the audience got louder. Hampton Beach was an Earthly memory and no one was ready to return to Terra Firma quite yet. Trivium obliged and brought us back “In Waves” finishing off with “Pull Harder on the Strings of Your Martyr“. With the last pull, they said goodnight and we were all left to go back out into the cold.
In a few short hours we had gone from Earth into a heated orbit and returned. All was as if we had never left. Not since Blue Ridge 2022 have I experienced such heat coming from the stage. It was chaotically refreshing in a nuclear meltdown sort of way. Looking forward to the next time I am able to catch either band as they pass through Richmond.
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Like Light to the Flies
Feast of Fire
Built to Fall
Down From the Sky
The Sin and the Sentence
Until the World Goes Cold
No Way Back Just Through
The Heart From Your Hate
Pull Harder on the Strings of Your Martyr
Richmond has replaced Hampton Beach, NH as their best audience to date!
Show Date: May 16, 2023