When it comes to stage presence, The Joy Formidable rival much better known bands. They storm the stage aggressively, and don’t leave until they’ve shredded every piece of it.
Before I go any deeper, I’d like to apologize to The Dig for not catching their set. With my new schedule I barely made it to Schubas in time for my interview with Ritzy, Rhydian and Matt. So after our chat, I had to grab some food. Kari was already sort of nearby, so we went to Chipotle and took a cab back. It was almost time for the headliner when we walked in the door.
The Joy Formidable kicked off with “The Greatest Light Is The Greatest Shade,” which is also the opener for their record, A Balloon Called Moaning. A great choice to lead off a set, because it really does preview everything that comes after.
Most of the album enjoys a Specter-ish wall of sound quality that I was curious to see pulled off live. Not only did they pull it off, but they crushed it. I’ve seen a lot of three-piece bands over the past year, and The Joy Formidable easily bested any of them as far as creating an atmosphere for the audience and sticking with it.
Part of that atmosphere included playing some odd interstitials between songs. One sounded like a Willy Wonka piece (no idea really, though) and one was a poem I was not familiar with. The band is from Wales, so I’ll guess Dylan Thomas, but don’t quote me.
The rest of the atmosphere was provided by Ritzy, Rhydian and Matt all going crazy on stage. I alluded to Ritzy’s guitar playing in my review of their album, and I certainly wasn’t disappointed here. In person she’s quite pixie-ish, but once the switch gets flipped to stage mode, she’s a beast. Same goes for Rhydian. He’s a good chap, but he loves to perform and it shines through when you watch him bouncing around. Rhydian is pretty quiet, but he beats the hell out of that drum kit.
I must say, also, that I was pleasantly surprised by the size of the crowd. Well done, Chicago. For the first time in a long while, I was very pleased at a show… except for the couple standing in front of me. They were very annoying.
The Joy Formidable announced that they will be back in Chicago in March or April. I urge you to check them out when they return. In the meantime, pick up A Balloon Called Moaning today and The Big Roar when it drops in the spring.
- A Balloon Called Moaning is available on iTunes for $7.99.
- For more on The Joy Formidable, check out my review of their album, A Balloon Called Moaning. Or, watch my video interview with the band.
The Joy Formidable performing “I Don’t Want to See You Like This