–by Jeff Quirin
–photos by Greg Artime
There really is something special about going to a rock show. It’s a wholly different experience from any other type of concert. All the way from seeing how many of your favorite bands are represented in the wide variety of shirts worn by those in the line to get in, to the programmers on the floor moshing to the warmup music before the opener. They just hit harder and leave wanting more. On Friday night A Day to Remember delivered on the promise of a true rock show at the St. Louis Music Park. Accompanying them on this St. Louis Music Park “Just Some Shows Tour” stop were Bad Omens and Beartooth.
Going into the show I really knew very little of any of the three bands aside from some pre-show scouting on Spotify “This is” playlists. Which is a shame because in hindsight all three fit very much into my “go to tunes” vibe, but just never came across them. Darn algorithms. Fortunately, knowing every song, old and new, wasn’t required to get into the flow of the show.
This show was my first at the St. Louis Music Park in Maryland Heights. It’s not a large venue like another well-known venue nearby, but what it lacks in stature it makes up for in ambiance. Enough room to hold a good-sized crowd and intimate enough to never feel too far from the stage. Being outdoors it certainly could have been uncomfortably warm down in the pit and up in the stands. Thankfully, mother nature issued a reprieve for the night gracing everyone with a mild temperature and a cool breeze.
As the sun started to make its way down for the day it was time for Bad Omens to take the stage and kick off the night’s activities. One by one the band members took the stage as they got things going with “THE DEATH OF PEACE OF MIND”. The title track from their latest album. Definitely a song that is everything you would want from an opener. Has the subtleness and entrancing hook to get you pulled in before it kicks it up a notch or five in the back third heavy riffs and a solid screaming fit. What really caught me off-guard, in all the right ways, was their second song “ARTIFICAL SUICIDE”. A quick costume addition, an all-black mask, and then all the growling and shredding any metal head would happily headbang to the point of dizzying confusion.
Most of Bad Omens’ set featured music from their latest album including “The Grey”, “Nowhere To Go”, “Like a Villain”, and “Just Pretend”. All of which tell the story of their style. Blending smooth melodic vocals tinged with a slight punk pop vibe combined just enough metal feeling to balance out some of the more electronic sounding aspects. Really, just an enjoyable blend of so many genres that you may not consider combining but work together in a delightful way. They wrapped up their set with “Dethrone” from their 2019 album “Finding God Before God Finds Me”. Much like “ARTIFICAL SUICIDE” its straight banger that shows that front man Noah Sebastian has the range to belt out heart felt lyrics any way you want to hear them.
The stark contrast between Bad Omens and Beartooth was immediately apparent when the latter took the stage. Where once a red backdrop and accompanying lights were now stood the band’s name in chrome letters on a teal background. The contrast didn’t stop there. From the start Beartooth immediately put the crowd at 11. Jumping into a high energy assault from front man Calen Shomo with the song “The Lines” before going into “Devastation”. Whether you want to categorize either as hardcore punk or metalcore doesn’t really matter. Either way its going 0 to 60 faster than any electric powered sports car could. Just imagine the Diet Dr. Pepper guy wearing all teal hopped up on a Bang energy drink and you get the idea.
When a band comes out with an energy level that high its fair to expect plenty of crowd involvement. From encouraging chanting and clapping along to making many different potentially inaudible tones from the pit. It’s a level of engagement and participation that many bands will try to get but fall short of. They dug deep across their whole discography playing songs from four different albums and their latest release “Riptide”.
With “Riptide” Shomo wove in a story of a greater connection to St. Louis and his personal life. Going through tough times he announced he’s 8 months sober leading to a lot of reflection with some culmination in this tour stop. His grandparents live in St. Louis and was able to spend time with his grandfather for the first time in a long time when he wasn’t sure if he would again. Given little time to live two years ago he is still going today and, in their hours-long conversation, the day of the show they spoke of focusing on the journey and being in the here and now. Certainly not something you would expect at a rock show, but again, they are different. Beartooth would wrap up their night on stage with an encore featuring the instrumental song called “The Last Riff”. For fans of instrumental rock music, think Apolcalytpica or “Canto 34” by Five Finger Death Punch, it’s absolutely a song to check out.
Once the sun was out of sight the stars of the night came out to shine. Combining the measured tone of Bad Omens and a breakneck pace of engagement by Beartooth, A Day to Remember, provided everything you’d want in a headline act.
They started off their set off fast with “The Downfall of Us All”, “All I Want”, “Paranoia”, and “A Shot in the Dark”. All songs that showcase their metalcore and punk tendencies. Something seen further through the rest of their set with “Miracle”, “All Signs Point to Lauderdale”, and “RIght Back At It Again”. Lead singer Jeremy McKinnon makes it easy to get into the songs even if you don’t know the lyrics. Constant movement and seamlessly going back and forth between singing, scream, and growling as if it took no effort at all. Nevermind all those different vocalizations while bobbing and weaving across the stage, something more akin to a rapper or R&B singer.
Much like in serious movies where levity is needed to balance out the drama, ADTR dropped in some more pop or pop punk influenced songs like “Degenerates” and their collaboration with Marshmello, “Rescue Me”. Purely fun and catchy songs with lyrics and enough instrumentation to make you realize it’s still the same band borrowing from other genres. The kind where you realize can’t help but bounce your shoulders and jump up and down rather than headbang.
Even more interesting than the combination of rock riffs and pop influences is the way they one upped Beartooth, in a good way, on engaging the crowd. Not just asking fans to sing or clap along, but to take that to the next level. Someone patrolling the stage dressed as Super Mario looking for the right places to shoot t-shirts out of a cannon into the crowd. Dropping a dozen beach balls into the pit during “Rescue Me”/ and countless streamers during another song. Having a different digital background that corresponded to every song.
My personal favorite was the exploding speakers that would catch fire during “2nd Sucks”. Although, the falling forever person and the ocean based motif of “Rescue Me” struck a special chord. That’s not all though. In keeping with the theme of the song they threw toilet paper rolls in to the crowd during “All Signs Point to Lauderdale” as a reference to high school kids “TPing” the school as a prank which of course matched the high school locker backdrop. Lastly, the encouragement, against better judgment, to have crowd surfers crowd surf on each other. A few folks got up and surfed a surfer. More importantly, no one was hurt and the security guards that made sure got a nice plug from McKinnon.
In total, ADTR played 16 songs leveraging their library dating back to before moving on to a four song encore starting with “If It Means A Lot To You” that started acoustic and turned into a fully plugged in version. As encores often do, it started slow and quickly worked back up to a high intensity climax with “The Plot to Bomb the Panhandle” and an unhealthy amount of confetti dropped on everyone on the floor. A suitable way to end a wild and crazy night.
It could be the lack of concerts I’ve been able to attend due to the pandemic over the last two years, so accounting for recency bias, this was easily one of the best rock/metal/whatever you want to label it shows I’ve seen in the 25 or so years I’ve been attending them. As stated at the top, there really is something different about a rock show. Bad Omens, Beartooth, and ADTR brought that feeling back front and center to give me and the rest of St. Louis there a night we won’t forget.