Report: Joy Formidable Live in Rochester

 

Sept. 30 at the Water Street Music Hall,
it was a Roar-ing good time.

 

Text & Photos By April Engram

A humbled and charged
Joy Formidable descended upon Rochester’s Water Street as
they neared the end of their headlining U.S. tour in support of debut album
The Big Roar. The Welsh trio has
quickly gained a following since their 2009 EP A Balloon Called Moaning; with the recent U.S. release of
Roar the band got a chance to drown
fans from across the pond with their kinetic music.

 

Joy Formidable’s
reputation for putting on a great live performance preceded them and they wasted
no time in awing the audience with their loud, shoegaze tunes; first, drummer
Matt Thomas had to battle a leaky pipe dripping water on his set. After a stage
hand comically, and unsuccessfully, attempted to throw a towel around the
highly suspended pipe he found a stool, stood on it, and securely tied the
cloth…the audience applauded. With all other instruments soundchecked and
Thomas ready to go Ritzy Bryan (guitar, vocals) and Rhydian Dafydd (bass,
vocals) emerged from backstage; their presence encouraged a second round of
applause from the eager crowd. Bryan
greeted everyone and Joy Formidable leapt into the music.

 

Thomas was
amazing on the drums as he pulverized his kit while Bryan and Dafydd purposefully
– and dangerously – collided. Bryan
intentionally stumbled backwards into Dafydd’s bass and he shoved her away; he
swayed with the music into Bryan,
she kicked him back to his station. Their angst-filled energy was surely
intensified by their amped music while Thomas, quite contradictorily, wore a
beaming smile for the entire performance.

 

Despite a short
setlist, Joy Formidable fans enjoyed every moment and sang along with Bryan. When
the familiar bass riff intro to “Austere” began people cheered and applauded. Near
the songs’ end the band quieted as Bryan’s
voice soared over the audience’s rhythmic claps before the expected explosion
of music filled the music hall. Bryan thanked Rochester for the reception and confessed that she’s
amazed that a little band from Wales
could drum up such a crowd, “I’m always surprised people show up” she joked.

 

 

 

 

 

Before the night
was through one song that didn’t appear on The
Big Roar
, “Ostrich” made the cut with darker track “Buoy” leading us to the
finale. Of course “Whirring” would be last; now the customary end to a Joy
Formidable performance the nearly seven minute song concludes with a furious,
high octane four minutes of music. Yet there is nothing like experiencing
“Whirring” live; Bryan
throws her guitar to the floor and turns her attention to her effects board,
she and Dafydd beat drums while Thomas goes even crazier on the drums. When the
song was over Bryan
and Dafydd waved their farewell to the audience, Thomas threw his broken drum
sticks into the air, high fived fans in the front row, jumped off the stage
into the crowd and disappeared backstage.

 

Though the
performance excluded some great songs from The
Big Roar
that could’ve extended the night, Joy Formidable always proves to
be a fantastic live act.

 

Setlist:

 

A Heavy Abacus

The Magnifying
Glass

Austere

Ostrich

The Greatest
Light is the Greatest Shade

Cradle

Buoy

Whirring

 

 

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