Jon Bellion’s homecoming Saturday night was fit for a hero.
The Lake Grove native turned his Northwell Health at Jones Beach Theater debut as a performer into an all-out Long Island celebration, with local rapper Lifestat kicking off the evening and Lawrence, the Brooklyn-based R&B band that records and practices in Woodbury, also warming up the crowd.
“This is one of the best nights of my entire life,” Bellion said, after delivering a stunning version of “Good Things Fall Apart,” his current hit duet with Illenium. The song, which Bellion has said brings dance rhythms to Taking Back Sunday’s indie-rock angst, capped a powerful encore that began with the crowd pounding on their seats and breaking into an a capella version of The White Stripes’ “Seven Nation Army” and included Bellion jumping into the mosh pit and letting the crowd serenade him by repeating the part of his song “New York Soul Part II” where he sings, “Long Island’s own are smiling ‘cause my soul is flying. I did everything for New York.”
And Bellion did it all his way, reaching Jones Beach headliner status without playing the music industry game. These days, the industry practically demands that its artists fit into a single, easily definable box.
But Bellion has always been all over the musical map, as he showed on “Glory Sound Prep” album, which he nearly played in its entirety. He has a tender, poignant voice that he uses for his more pop-leaning offerings, like the rousing “Woke the (Expletive) Up” or his hit “All Time Low.” He is a ferocious rapper, which he showed off early in “Let’s Begin” and then later in “Adult Swim,” where he declared his allegiance to the Long Island Rail Road and reminisced about driving around Sachem. And he certainly knows how to rock out, as he and his excellent six-piece band did in the Rage Against the Machine-inspired “Cautionary Tales.” Bellion also likes to improvise, as he and the band did in “Guillotine,” where he called out instructions to the band during the song, like a quarterback calling an audible, showing how all those Dave Matthews Band concerts he attended at Jones Beach affected him.
All those disparate styles wouldn’t necessarily fit together for another artist. But Bellion makes it work through the sheer force of his personality, with both the tough and tender sides on display at Jones Beach.
“I feel overwhelmed,” he said, welcoming the crowd and trying to maintain his composure. “I am just so grateful.”
SETLIST: JT / Let’s Begin / Conversations with My Wife / Couples Retreat / Blu / The Internet (with Lawrence) / All Time Low / Overwhelming / Guillotine / Adult Swim (Verse 2) / Stupid Deep / Adult Swim (Verse 3) / Cautionary Tales // ENCORE: Seven Nation Army > New York Soul (Part II) / Woke the (Expletive) Up / Good Things Fall Apart
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