The Joy Formidable Setlist
10/15/15 Brooklyn, NY "CMJ Music Marathon"
10/16/15 Reno, NV ReTRAC East
10/30/15 New Orleans, LA "Voodoo Festival"
11/12/15 Los Angeles, CA Masonic Lodge
11/14/15 San Diego, CA "San Diego Music Thing"
11/21/15 Sonoma, CA Gundlach Bundschu Winery
Welsh alternative trio The Joy Formidable hit town as part of Red Bull’s Sound Select Series, a promotional run of local concerts sponsored by the energy drink and curated by local club, First Avenue. In addition to reduced admission with RSVP and the namesake beverage, the bar’s pizza roll had even been re-christened The Joy FormidaROLL, complimentary for anyone getting in early enough.
The band has a dark edge to about every song (which makes their name fitting), including ‘Nineteeneightyone’, the lead single from debut full-length, Daydreaming, which comes out Nov. 6 on Land Ski Records. Playing only their 30th show as a band, look for bigger things once the album is released.
Proper touring begins in January (including a March 2016 stop at Lollapalooza Brasil in front of 60,000 people on a racetrack), but the band has been itching to play live again, and has embarked on a few preview shows, including the 350-person capacity Turf Club.
"Ritzy" Bryan (vocals, guitar) was feeling especially spry with Rhydian Dafydd –bass (who somewhat resembles Ian Ziering) and Matthew James Thomas- drums, percussion (who reminds of a cheeky Russell Brand) taking most of the vocal drubbing.
Like most of their songs, opening ‘The Greatest Light is the Greatest Shade’ (from 2011 debut full-length, the aptly named The Big Roar) builds into an-Everest sized wall of guitar-laden sound, fully expecting the listeners to journey the climb with them. Bryan was annoyed by a persistent hum during the first song, saying it sounded “like a submarine under the stage”, and playfully blaming her two bandmates before ramping into the burning ‘This Ladder is Ours’.
As bassist Dafydd got his monitor pack worked on with drummer Thomas chiming in, Bryan exclaimed she was working with a robot that needs new batteries and a tired drummer with too-tight pants, with the audience laughing along with her.
‘Wolf’s Law’ from their sophomore release, “defined the whole record for us” and is “framed in sadness” Bryan explained, intro-ing the song that starts with delicate piano before exploding into jet-turbine level volumes.
The Joy Formidable
The encore began with the new ‘Passerby’, prefaced by Dafydd saying the band was proud of their new record, doing it on their terms, and they were very eager to share it with everyone. Radio hit ‘Whirring’ ended the evening, with the crowd doing its own whirring, by spinning and jumping about.
Look for the band to return locally in 2016; no doubt to a much bigger venue …but minus the pizza roll renamed for them for the evening.
The Joy Formidable at Turf Club, St Paul (09 October 2015)