Bangin' heads with Balance and Composure

“Bang your f***ing head.” It’s a command commonly used to open shows  by Jon Simmons, front man of the alternative rock band Balance and Composure. B&C is currently finishing up its first headline tour with two more shows in Connecticut and New York, with Daylight and The Jealous Sound as openers.

Photo by Meaghan Healy/Gavel Media

Photo by Meaghan Healy/Gavel Media

I joined the crowd in following Simmons's directions last night, Feb. 22, at a great new venue in Cambridge called The Sinclair, starting with "Quake" off the band’s only full-length LP, Separation. A great choice for an opener in my opinion, as it is light compared to other B&C tunes, but still a lot of fun.

“Kaleidoscope” followed, a grungier but quick song off the band's 2010 split with Tigers Jaw, which many fans regard as their best work. The audience really got into this one as head bobbing morphed into crowd surfing and screaming.

Simmons started out by saying that the entire band was feeling pretty sick, half-jokingly blaming it on drummer Bailey Van Ellis, and asking for the audience's help to sing along and help them through the set. Midway through, Simmons mentioned that the audience was making him feel better. "You're the only medicine I need…that was bad," he said.

The sickness was apparent, as Simmons often seemed to lose his voice in the middle of songs, cough it out when he had the chance, and continue to give it his best. He definitely did not back down, even from the screaming parts in songs like “Kaleidoscope” and “I Tore You Apart in My Head.”

The songs gradually slowed down with “Void,” (Separation) a short and gloomy tune and “Stonehands,” (Separation) one of my personal favorites. Although not the most exciting of B&C's work in terms of pace, the crowd was equally pumped by “Stonehands.” The majority of the audience belted along and there were even a few crowd surfers, despite the slow speed of the song.

“Show Your Face,” was next, a song off the 2009 EP Only Boundaries. “Show Your Face” reminds me of “Quake” pace-wise, except in my opinion it has more opportunities to scream along and is loads more fun. The crowd clearly agreed with me, especially during the part where Simmons sings, "It's always on my troubled mind."

The audience was then pleasantly surprised by “You Can’t Fix Me,” a new song off the upcoming split with Braid. It’s quite different from B&C’s past work, but still so good! It has perhaps less of a grungy sound than songs off Separation. See for yourself.

“Echo” (Separation) came next, a dark and very slow song with heavy drums that still managed to inspire a few of those ambitious stage divers, despite the softness of Simmons’ voice relative to B&C’s other work.

After taking a break with the chill atmosphere of “Echo,” the crowd was instantly enthralled by the opening chords of “Burden” (Tigers Jaw split). A slow and simple beginning turned into a climactic, dense chorus that willed people to scream at the top of their lungs along with Simmons.

It was evident that most of the crowd would have liked to hear “Alone for Now” next, an incredibly angsty song off the old EP I Just Want To Be Pure. Despite people shrieking the song title, the band went with “I Can’t Do This Alone” (Only Boundaries) instead. Rumor has it that the band isn’t too fond of its old songs, which is pretty typical among bands who have an evolving sound. “I Can’t Do This Alone” was still a great choice since it’s something that the band doesn’t play often. It’s a slower song but angry, dark, and fun to sing along to, especially the chorus and the ending where Simmons emotionally belts out, “I always see you in my sleep.”

The third-to-last song was “More to Me” (Separation), a personal favorite of mine that sounded great live and was one of those songs that required the audience to obey the head banging command. The excitement built from there with “Patience,” (Separation) a rough and angry song that really got the crowd enthusiastic.

The best part of the show was the end. Isn’t it always? The last song was “I Tore You Apart in my Head” (Separation), a song with progressions from slightly slower but melodic verses into rough choruses chock full of screaming and good plain fun. Crowd surfers and stage divers were in full force as people rushed to the front to yell along to, “F*** what you told me, it all leads to smoking alone in my room in the end.”

This video isn’t from last night, but from another date on the same tour. It’s a great video that shows energy similar to that of last night; skip to 2:10 to see a cool little performance by a crowd surfer.

Twelve hours after the concert ended, I still had not regained full hearing capabilities in my left ear, nor had I regained my full voice. That's how you know B&C was a good time.

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