Jon Bellion had Big Performance Energy™ last Saturday at The Masonic in San Francisco, one of his stops on his recently launched Glory Sound Prep tour. Drawing from an array of songs from his sophomore and debut albums, Bellion sang not only for his devoted fans in the crowd — he turned the night into an interactive performance for everyone, from the band members to viewers.
Bellion has been in the industry for almost a decade, but he started out behind the scenes co-writing songs for other artists. He was a force behind Eminem’s “Monster” and Jason Derulo’s “Trumpets”— the former of which won him his first Grammy when he was 23. It wasn’t until a year later that Bellion released his debut album, The Human Condition, which launched him on the path to the sort of fame enjoyed by those he used to write for. In 2017, he opened for Twenty-One Pilots and soon after, he released his second album, Glory Sound Prep.
After almost two hours of openers, the crowd was ready for the headliner to come out. “Bellion,” they wildly chanted when the lights dimmed for his entrance and, much to their hysteria, Bellion exploded onto the stage in a neon lit blacksuit.
Bellion’s music is difficult to categorize, taking after electronic, pop, rap, funk and even jazz. His accompanying band brought to the stage not just the usual drums and bass, but also a brass trio. As he began “JT” from his latest album, Bellion did a Broadway-level costume change into a Sergeant Pepper’s-esque coat, complete with a hipster mustache that would make any Portland citizen proud. After “JT,” the coat was quickly exchanged for a simple black shirt and exercise shorts, an indication to how cardio intensive the rest of the show was going to be.
Immediately it was clear that this was no Adele-sitting-on-a-chair-singing kind of concert. No, Bellion wanted his audience to be as much as part of the show as he was. Even though he was playing a venue with over 3,000 people, Bellion commanded the auditorium in a way that built intimacy for viewers with both Bellion and each other. Throughout his songs, he gave instructions to the crowd, having them sing lines back to him in “Overwhelming” and crouch down slowly and rise to the beat during “All Time Low.” During a break from his setlist, Bellion instructed the crowd to look to their left and right and high five each other, a surprisingly wholesome moment.
Bellion’s ebullient excitement at being able to perform to such a large crowd was infectious. During a particularly endearing moment, he gave the spotlight to each of his instrumentalists so they could have their own moments to shine. He also brought out his openers again so that they could do the same with riff-y solos.
Bellion’s recordings almost don’t do his songs justice — his performance was executed with such an electrifying energy. When listening to “Cautionary Tales” on Spotify, the “bang bang” chorus has a catchy cadence. But when Bellion performed it live, the entire auditorium came alive with the increasing intensity of each beat as it vibrated throughout the Masonic. It’s almost as if his songs are made to be listened to in person rather than through the radio or a phone speaker.
As Bellion alternated between singing at the front of the stage and taking breaks to jam out on his synth, the crowd couldn’t help but smile along with his excitement. It was clear that he was having the time of his life and that he wanted us all along for the ride.
Contact Julie Lim at [email protected].