Glassjaw, Balance & Composure – Music Hall of Williamsburg – 8/9/13


Better Than: The crumpled Warped Tour flyer you have lying around in your childhood bedroom.

It’s easy to become jaded in this town. There’s so much to see and do. And, after awhile, you feel you have seen and done it all. Perhaps that’s why New York concert crowds are notorioiusly hard to please, all crossed arms and blank stares But every once in a blue moon, you’ll catch a crowd that’s as vibrant as the performance happening on the stage before them. Strangers clutch one another, mouthing every word; moshers of every age and creed help crowd-surfers lurch toward the front.

The crowd at Glassjaw, for instance.

The enthusiasm started early. Crowd surfing at Music Hall of Williamsburg began with openers Balance & Composure. Wielding three guitars, they thrashed through a set of new, apocalyptic material. The quartet performed a variety of tracks, including the wrenching “Burden” and the desert burner “More to Me.”

Soon after, Glassjaw took the stage, and the sold-out venue erupted in cheers. People began to bump bodies in the mosh pit before the music even started–absolutely psyched. Glassjaw have garnered cult acclaim since the mid-1990s, fittingly, due to a dynamic live presence and shows that border on hysteria. The Long Island band drew devotees from across the state and beyond–fans behind me were discussing how long the drives were to reach the Brooklyn venue.

Frontman Daryl Palumbo is all charisma, a performer in the truest sense of the word. Donning a Love & Rockets tee with the sleeves torn off, he prowls the stage with predatory, knowing glares, using his body to writhe to the beat of the drums. At some point he procured a gray tie and wore it over his shirt. At another, he dove into the crowd as though it were a pool, flipping in the air before a sea of arms grabbed him.

Sonically, the guitars were crisp and full, with a steady bass keeping them in line. Lyrics hit you straight in the face, raw and relatable. Between songs, Palumbo engages the audience in banter instead of lecturing at fans, just as psyched as they are to be sharing an experience.

Collectively, everyone seemed to be reliving the memory of what it felt to first be hit by a band of this intensity. We live in a time where it’s becoming more and more difficult to impress audiences. Musical performances have never been as outrageous and impressive as they are right now, from the light spectacles of EDM musicians at Electric Daisy Carnival to the costume changes at a Beyonce show. Glassjaw continues to push the definition of what an excellent performance means, with coordinated stage-dives and a mentality that’s inclusive as it is immersive.

Critical Bias: I admittedly wasn’t too well-versed in Glassjaw’s discography before attending the show, although I had a good friend in high school that dug them. But what better way to be properly introduced to the Glassjaw experience than diving straight into the pit?

Overheard: “Marry me! Take off your shirt! I don’t care which one!”

Random Notebook Dump: Homegirl just jumped off the stage, no shoes. Lost or taken off? Either way, respect.

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