D.R.U.G.S. brings their post-hardcore goodness to a packed crowd in Belvidere on a cold winter night (Show Review)

The Apollo Theatre

Belvedere, IL

Feb. 18th, 2023

By Bryan McCabe


When it comes to the post-hardcore scene, few musicians are as prolific as Craig Owens. Yet, as influential and legendary as he is, Craig seems to grace the world with his greatness in spurts. Whether it’s the likes of Chiodos, Isles & Glaciers, or DRUGS, we get nothing but incredible music. Destroy Rebuild Until God Shows first came to be in 2010, and as quickly as it came, the band called it quits in 2012. If you weren’t lucky enough to catch them on one of their few tours in that span, it felt like any hope of seeing them had all but vanished. Cut to 2020 and teases of DRUGS making a comeback started to surface. Sure enough, the rumors were true and with new members in tow, Craig Owens had revived DRUGS. The next year fans were treated to a new album in the form of Destroy Rebuild. Now the only thing left to do was to embark on a tour to satisfy all of the fans who had been waiting for so long to finally see the band live.

The Destroy Rebuild tour made a stop in Belvidere, IL on a cold February night, but that didn’t keep the fans away who were ready to fill the old Apollo Theatre. First up was Pittsburgh’s 156/Silence with their punishingly heavy brand of metalcore that instantly had the crowd getting warmed up and ready to throw down. Their heavy riffs definitely set the tone for the kind of music the crowd was going to get to enjoy that night. 

Up next was the absolutely chaotic The Callous Daoboys. Make no mistake, I mean chaotic in the best way possible. They somehow find a way to perfectly blend brutal breakdowns with synthy violin and piano ballad sing-a-longs. Oh, and they throw in the saxophone because why not? Their unique take on mathcore totally works and had the crowd going from full on moshing to singing every word like a beautiful choir. With so much going on up on the stage, there is no shortage of entertainment. By the time The Callous Daoboys were done, the crowd was swelling with excitement. 

156/Silence may have started the night off heavy, but now it was time for Varials to take that dial and turn it to 11. Starting off with A Body Wrapped in Plastic: Prologue off of their most recent album, Varials wasted no time in working the crowd into a giant mosh pit. They made full use of their time, playing 10 throat punchingly brutal songs that culminated with the earth shaking slow breakdown of Stigmata. The guys in Varials were clearly on a mission to be the most brutal band that night, and they just may have pulled it off.

Of course it was finally time for what fans have been waiting years to see, DRUGS! With the lights low, the band started to make their way out onto the stage, and it was……Varials? Again? It turns out that most of the members of Varials are the backing band for Craig Owens for this iteration of DRUGS on this tour. Whatever. Who cares? It was amazing. Where was I? Oh yeah, Craig came out to the original DRUGS hit, If You Think This Song Is About You, It Probably Is and the crowd instantly went nuts. The entire room was singing along to every word. One unfortunate truth about many artists as they get older is that their voices just don’t stand up to the test of time. That most definitely was not the case with Craig though. He sounds just as good as he ever has; everything from belting out his beautifully high vocals to tearing through intense screams. The set leaned heavily on the debut album that first gave fans a taste of DRUGS, but songs like Destiny and Gold off of the comeback album fit right in with the rest. The real treat that night though was the 3 Chiodos covers. This could be the closest anyone gets to hearing songs like The Words “Best Friend” Become Redefined or Baby, You Wouldn’t Last a Minute on the Creek for a long time, so getting to experience that was an incredible surprise. Another welcomed surprise was getting to hear a new song with the promise that a new album is in the works, so definitely be keeping your eyes and ears peeled for the news. After an hour of back to back bangers, the night finally came to a close with Sex Life, yet another unforgettable song off of that unforgettable self-titled album. It seems that DRUGS is fully back and hopefully sticking around for much longer this time around.  



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