Balance and Composure has always been one of those bands that has been on my radar, although never the subject of my sole attention. I had been reading several reviews about their newest album and how divisive it was, so when I was offered the opportunity to do a live review for The Poly Post, I couldn’t turn it down.
Balance and Composure played to a sometimes raucous, sometimes subdued crowd at The Glass House in Pomona on Wednesday in support of their third album, “Light We Made.”
The band’s departure from their punk/post-hardcore roots, trading in distorted guitars for more polished vocals, has created a divide in their sound and their fan base.
Members of the audience were a mix of angsty and indie rockers distinctive of Balance and Composure’s old and new phases, which made for a volatile blend.
The show began with their new album’s opening track, “Midnight Zone,” a bass guitar-driven groove layered with lead singer Jon Simmons’s gentle falsetto vocals. The song served as a strong indicator of their new direction as it was an uncharacteristically mellow song for any band to open with, let alone Balance and Composure.
Early fans of the band had their moment when they played their sophomore album’s hit single, “Tiny Raindrop.” Suddenly the crowd seemed to have awakened as a wave of fans began to weave in to the front of the stage, provoking a more energetic participation from the audience as a small mosh pit formed close to the stage prompting a few crowd surfers.
This energy grew and carried as they continued to play their older material from “The Things We Think We’re Missing” and “Separation,” which have a noticeably more aggressive composition in comparison to the more groove-based songs on “Light We Made.”
Newer fans of the band grew increasingly confused and irritated as the mosh pit began to grow in size throughout several more songs. While there is usually a strong camaraderie and mutual understanding between participants of a mosh pit, this one appeared increasingly combative.
The concert came to a head as a fight broke out in the pit during recently released single “Postcard” off their newest album, forcing the band to stop mid-song to bring attention to the situation and allow security to step in.
“Who’s starting a fight? To ‘Postcard?!’” called out Simmons. “No one should be getting hurt to ‘Postcard’… except maybe your feelings.”
Simmons addressed the situation calling the fight a “first for Balance and Composure.” As the situation appeared under control, the band tentatively proceeded with the show and started the song over.
There was a palpable hesitancy in the crowd following the incident as members of the audience seemed a bit more stiff and apprehensive about moving to the music.
In an attempt to lighten the mood and seemingly acknowledge the divisiveness of their new material, Simmons introduced brand new song “Run From Me” with a bit of sarcasm, saying, “Oh no, new stuff. Oh no.”
The concert seemed to hit its stride again with the thrashing guitars on “Notice Me” as the audience screamed along to the growled vocals in the last few verses of the song.
Despite the polarizing atmosphere created by the band’s new direction, Balance and Composure effectively attempted to mend that divide by weaving old material with new material throughout the set list.
Paying homage to the fans who have been with them since the beginning, the band closed the show with one of their earliest singles, “I Tore You Apart In My Head,” which symbolically interchanges roaring growls with toned-down conversational singing.
As the crowd opened up into a mosh pit once again, the more symbiotic ambience this time around was evident as two moshers shoving around caught each other in a hug with the final crashes of the cymbals.
[Feature photo courtesy of Andi Elloway.]