A bittersweet evening at The Lost Horizon

Polar Bear Club bids farewell to touring comrades, says hello to hometown stage

“Take care of yourselves. Take care of each other,” said Jimmy Stadt, Polar Bear Club’s ebullient lead singer, as he stood before zealous moshers exploding into the air like human-sized kernels of popcorn. Although warnings regarding unruly tattooed appendages were duly warranted, Stadt was undoubtedly referring to the overwhelming sense of kinship emanating from The Lost Horizon main stage on Friday Oct. 14. The pop punk bonanza was the penultimate show of the New York-based outfit’s Clash Battle Guilt Pride tour. It was also a time to appreciate friends, fans, and hometown roots.

Photo: Eric Vilas-Boas
Polar Bear Club front man Jimmy Stadt thanks the evening's opening acts

Polar Bear Club spent seven weeks squished in a couple of vans with opening acts Such Gold from Rochester, Balance and Composure from Doylestown, Penn., and Fireworks from Detroit, Mich. The show was the last for Fireworks, who left the tour a day early to witness two of their best friends tie the knot—but not before dedicating a love song to the absent lovebirds.

Knowing the show was a goodbye, the close-knit touring group made every ounce of eardrum-shattering feedback count. Such Gold took the stage after Binghamton opener Summer People to present a 24-karat set. They quickly instigated moshing and stage diving as emphatic fists rose in tandem with the palatable hardcore music. A smile rarely left singer Ben Kotkin’s face as the crowd screamed along with the choruses.

The overriding theme of camaraderie cropped up when Kotkin urged the crowd to “come support Earth Crises next Monday.” Earth Crises, a Syracuse-bred metalcore group, pioneered the straight edge scene in the 1990s. Such Gold’s 2010 release “Pedestals” features guest vocals from fellow New Yorker and Earth Crisis singer Karl Buechner.

“Learn your roots,” Kotkin reminded the fans.

“I hate goodbyes,” rasped Jonathan Simmons, singer and guitarist of Balance and Composure, towards the end of their screaming set. Formed in 2007, the group carved their own niche in the post-millennial punk scene. They quickly cranked up the volume and the room temperature, prompting audience members to speculate whether Simmons was uncomfortable in his heavy sweatshirt. Drummer Bailey Van Ellis impressed with powerful proficiency even during ballads.

For their final show with the tour, Fireworks introduced keyboards, smooth vocals, and hand-clapping rhythms to the pop-punk cacophony. Singer David Mackinder took a moment to reminisce about the band’s first show, in which they played approximately two “real” songs with lyrics made up on the spot. Fireworks affirmed their culmination into harbingers of pop-punk’s second coming as they stomped on stage with their own riotous choruses. The crowd devolved into a surging frenzy when they played “Arrows,” a hit from their 2011 album “Gospel.”

A highlight of Fireworks’ final touring throes came when all touring musicians in their cohort joined Fireworks on stage for a spontaneous dance party.

“That’s why we don’t want to go home,” said Mackinder. “That’s basically a recap of the last seven weeks. Someone may be pregnant.”

Polar Bear Club finally took the stage for an assailment of tasteful loudness and melodic anthems. “It’s f------ good to be back, man. Holy s---,” Stadt told the crowd. Though the group is comprised of Syracuse and Rochester musicians, Polar Bear Club hasn’t visited the Lost in over a year. They have a more than fair excuse—they spent 2011 touring Australia and producing their third album, “Clash Battle Guilt Pride,” on Bridge 9 Records.

Polar Bear Club was clearly at home between the massive stacks of speakers bookending the stage as they charged through a flurry of new tunes like “My Best Days” and old favorites like “Election Day.” Meanwhile, the pit swelled to the lurching guitars and drums like a primordial soup. The fans didn’t seem to mind an occasional kick to the head and avidly assisted crowd surfers. At one point Stadt joined them by diving into the crowd, microphone and all.

The band paused to interact with the crowd and express their appreciation for their tour mates between each tune.

“If you were on the fence about any of the bands here tonight, I hope you fell the right f------ way,” said Stadt.

The band even gave a shout out to bassist Erik “Goose” Henning’s mom, who was watching from the crowd. With this do-it-together mentality, Polar Bear Club encapsulated the positive attitude of the evening and their genre. As guitar feedback faded and the sweat-drenched musicians exited the stage, it was clear the brotherhood of the four bands would linger like the post-show ringing of ears.

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