11 months ago, I flew to Denver to catch The Joy Formidable play one of their first headlining shows in North America. The band delivered on all the hype surrounding them in front of a sold-out club. On Wednesday night, the band’s performance at The Mayan in downtown Los Angeles expanded on the tightly wound energy of those early shows with a more expansive sound and a growing legion of fans.
Success brings more toys. The band brought more amps to the festivities on Wednesday night and the stage was decorated with a nautical vibe that included a lighthouse. Calling this final trek across North America a celebration of their debut, The Big Roar, the setlist stuck closely to the album. Wasting little time, the band ripped through ‘A Heavy Abacus’ and ‘I Don’t Want To See You Like This’, each song erupting into extended codas with drummer Matt Thomas punctuating each explosion with his rapid-fire kick drum.
Playing before an all-ages crowd, the reach of the band’s music was apparent in front of the stage. Aging hipsters and the requisite guy who shouts “rock ‘n’ roll” after every song were wedged in with teenagers who formed mosh pits at every chance. The younger fans appreciated new addition to the band’s setlist, the Twilight-featured ‘End Tapes’.
Ending the set with ‘The Greatest Light Is the Greatest Shade’, the band’s confidence as a unit was apparent. The extensive touring, including supporting Foo Fighters, has them playing incredibly tight sets while having more fun than ever on stage and with the fans.
The encore included bassist Rhydian Dafydd bringing out an acoustic guitar while Ritzy Bryan’s electric guitar hung untouched around her neck to debut one of the first songs from their upcoming second album. Titled ‘Silent Treatment’, the quiet delivery and emotional punch of Bryan’s vocal brought a new dimension to The Joy Formidable’s live show. With a harpist joining them for the massive finale, ‘Whirring’, the band set about destroying as much of the stage as they could. Turning to the crowd, Bryan jumped down into the pit with her guitar. As the young crowd stormed towards her, she was smiling and telling everyone to “play nice”, which is exactly what the band does better than just about everyone. The massive sound and stadium-sized choruses never lose sight of how much fun rock ‘n’ roll should be.
On Wednesday, The Joy Formidable began their last waltz across North America in support of a stellar debut album in what could only be termed a victory parade.