by Matt Kelchner
Saturday night at Union Transfer was meant to be a homecoming of sorts for Title Fight and Balance and Composure. Balance and Composure were celebrating the release of their latest album, The Things We Think We’re Missing. It was also the first show in Pennsylvania as husband and wife for newlyweds Carly and Tom, together who make up the opening band Slingshot Dakota. The show itself had been sold out weeks in advance.
Despite all of these great things coming together to create a memorable night in Philadelphia, everything quickly and suddenly changed for the worse midway through Title Fight’s set.
For those unaware of what a Title Fight show is like, it’s a much different environment than a typical concert at Union Transfer. There is no guard rail. Fans rush to the front of the stage to sing along to their favorite songs. They also rush to climb up on stage to then jump back into the sea they pulled themselves out of.
It creates a cohesive energy and feeling that is unlike anything else. There’s a bond between fans to respect the safety of one another no matter what. However, Saturday night that bond was pushed to it’s scary limits. Just as Title Fight were making their way to the heart of their set, singer/bassist Ned Russin ordered the rest of the band to stop mid-song and began pointing into the crowd. A fan was laying motionless, landing face first after stage diving. Within seconds the sea of fans created a circle to help the medical officials easily get to the injured fan.
Russin’s quick actions showed the kind of relationship the band has with their fans. They share the stage with one another. They look out for one another. Their safety comes first. Minutes ticked by until paramedics were able to help the young injured fan out of the venue. Then Russin came back on and before the Kingston, PA four piece started things up again, he reminded everyone once more to look out for one another and to try to keep things more relaxed for the rest of the night.
Everything leading up to this moment was making the night unforgettable. Slingshot Dakota started things off with their powerful, piano driven songs. They played an almost even number of songs from both their albums. They were even able to throw in a Nirvana cover with the help of lead singer Chris of Cruel Hand.
Cruel Hand took to the stage and immediately turned the energy level up in the room. The fast paced mix of hardcore and old school punk helped to get the crowd moving. Mosh pits opened up during breakdowns and fans flew left and right off the stage. All of this building up to Doylestown natives Balance and Composure showcasing their new album to their hometown.
From the moment they played the first notes of the first song to the ringing feedback after the last, Balance and Composure put everything out on the stage Saturday night. They played a number of songs from the new album as well as reaching back to previous ones. With friends, families (parents included) on hand, they gave their fans a night to remember.
As the stage equipment was changing over for Title Fight, the excitement in the air was building. Once they started playing, the crowd turned into one giant, single sweaty mass of people. After seeing them play for years now, it’s incredible that they can still keep up the level of energy. They played a career spanning set throughout the night. Reaching as far back as to their first 7” singles to their latest EP coming out in November. With fans darting around left and right, they ripped through an energetic performance that is now standard.
Then came the stoppage. All in all, it took around 20 minutes for Title Fight to start playing again. When they did it was like collectively, the entire venue had the wind knocked out of them. Every member of Title Fight looked physically and mentally shaken up. There was a somber feeling floating around the air. Slowly but surely, as they continued to play, the energy picked up and the ruckus started again. Before long, people were jumping and flying around again even after being witness to the ugly, negative side.
With a late show scheduled to begin at 10PM, Title Fight had to cut their set short. The night ended with a somewhat bittersweet taste, one that under normal circumstances would have been completely different. But despite the concerning and dangerous accident that occurred, it also was an example of exactly how devoted Title Fight are towards their fans. To completely stop a show mid-song and be the ones to alert the crowd and venue staff of an injured fan show that safety is first and foremost the most important thing at a concert.