Creepoid kicked off the show with a set that waxed and waned, sludged and shoegazed, ultimately coalescing in a dense wall of sound that left drums and guitars discarded on the stage. They bantered early on in their set that they were on a 78 show run, but appeared to be as alive and ready as anyone in the room for their half hour at the helm.
Their brand of dense low-fi punk set a dreamy tone to start the show. Co-vocalists Sean Miller and Anna Troxell traded chances to drone smoothly along with tense bass lines and fuzzy chords. To say that it was a “fun” set would be to undersell the maudlin tone of their sound, but the four gave off hefty waves of energy with each humming groove. They bounced back and forth on the stage, engaging an audience that seemed relatively unfamiliar with their catalog.
Next was Seahaven – a natural sonic companion to headliners Balance and Composure, and a supremely confident group on stage. Like Creepoid their set was marked by dynamics. Quiet segues exploded into massive choruses and the whole atmosphere of the room seemed to expand and disperse along with instrumental backdrop. Vocalist Kyle Soto made the absolute most of his voice on stage, and commanded the show. With songs that brought him back and forth between the depths and heights of his range, he seemed to be constantly challenging himself. The strain in his face reflected the yearning in his voice as he bellowed and crooned through the 45-minute set.
The five bandmates performed cohesively despite appearing to operate in separate worlds. Whereas Creepoid were highly interactive, the members of Seahaven all seemed to be intently focused on their own individual task, giving them a disparate onstage presence. The disconnection in their stage presence uniquely mirrored the lyric content of many of their songs, but never detracted from the execution of the songs. Their distant persona was personified but each of them, but seemed unrehearsed and genuine. Nonetheless their instrumental cohesion remained noteworthy, even as they focused intently on their own instruments.
The band closed with “Wild West Selfishness” from 2014’s Reverie Lagoon. During the song’s subdued first three minutes the tension built perfectly around Soto and co. Then, as if transformed, they erupted into the thundering ending of the song – the cathartic release that the song worked towards. And as quickly as it began, the final chords sent the band off stage, and the room catching a deep breath.
Balance and Composure entered without much ceremony and launched into “Parachutes,” the crushing opener from 2013’s nuanced and essential The Things We Think We’re Missing. Over the course of the hour set highlights from Missing included “Reflection,” “Tiny Raindrop” and “Back of My Head,” while “Stonehands,” “Void” and and “More to Me” represented the band’s debut album, Separation. Midway through the set frontman Jon Simmons stepped out alone for “Dirty Head” – a melancholy, morose solo piece from Missing. His performance of the album’s most affecting track made it clear just how well Balance and Composure translate emotion without ever seeming dramatic or overstated. Simmons is an enigmatic frontman, rarely looking up or making eye contact with the crowd. Yet his lyrical candor and the weight of his songs leave him wide open on stage. He takes on an anti-persona, seemingly so absent, but vividly revealed through his words. For the remainder of the set after “Dirty Head” the audience seemed bought in to this connection, and the room was electric all the way through to the encore of two of the band’s heavier songs, “Quake” and “Notice Me.”
Balance and Composure have always seemed to take care of business outside of the expectations and definitions that cloud the musical climate they are playing their way through. Live they appear equally separate from anything that may weigh the music down. Little banter, flawless timing and execution, and Simmons’ role as a direct, but hypotizing frontman combine to create an engaging and hype-free show.