Whirring in The Joy Formidable at Harlow’s
The band’s name says it all. Joy, an emotion evoked by well being, success, and good fortune or the prospect of having one’s desires. Formidable, a feeling of awe and admiration from grandeur and great strength combines the artistry of the trio formed in 2007 from North Wales — Ritzy Bryan on guitar and vocals, Rhydian Dafydd on bass guitar, and Matt Thomas on drums.
This is a band that should be seen live. The recorded music, especially the new song “Whirring,” is good. But the trio thrives before live audiences.
Live, the band lives up to its name projecting a soul-filling joy. Whether you are a sweaty youth in the crowded mosh pit or a 40-something professional grooving to the band from the safety of the bar, Joy Formidable delivers. Ritzy Bryan’s guitar riffs, her voice even her facial expressions were all delivered with charismatic intensity. The concert, in the tight confines of Harlow’s, was one Mr. Toad’s wild ride.
This band is ideal for open air performances in front of thousands of people like Outside Lands Music Festival and Lollapalooza. Harlow’s was way too small of a venue to contain The Joy Formidable. To see the band in a more intimate venue is a lucky break for Sacramento. Kudos to Radio 94.7 for arranging the band’s appearance.
The trio has developed a buzz around the song “Whirring,” from the EP “The Big Roar,” with Foo Fighters’ front-man Dave Grohl tweeting that it could be the 2011 song of the year. I thought Grohl’s tweet was over the top until I saw the band. “Whirring” is best enjoyed live — the band’s full intensity comes through.
The mix of mellow intellectuals chilling at the bar with hard rockers thumping up a storm showed the wide range of people who enjoy this loud, alt rock, shoegazing, band that combines edgy heavy metal with choral pop. The Joy Formidable is steadily developing a larger fan base by incorporating what’s cool in other types of music to create their own.
Ritzy Bryan knows how to connect. In her black suede long sleeve frock, icy blond symmetrical coif, and tights with short boots, she jumped, trashed about, and broke through a highly optimistic, bubbly persona with manic depressive anger and rage. Her expressions changed erratically from innocence to jerky runaway robot pushing that velocity into a see-saw of pink clouds. High fives with fans and eye contact engaged concert goers, even those wedged in the crevices of the club.
They played “A Heavy Abacus”,” Greyhounds in the Slips”, “Austere”, “Ostrich”, “The Greatest Light is the greatest shade”, “Cradle”, “Buoy”, and “Whirring”. They also came back for an encore performance with “Magnify” and “I don’t want to see you like this”.
Just so you don’t feel left out, here’s a treat –front row seats to "Whirring" at Harlow’s, and you don’t even have to brave the mosh pit. Once you see this video, we’re convinced you’ll want to see The Joy Formidable live too.
Fans like the Mota family drove all the way from Reno, Nevada because they wanted to see the band again. The first time at Outside Lands, the second at Harlow’s on Saturday night. “I kind of wish I brought my fourteen year old son.” commented Debbie Mota, 47. “He would have rocked with that drummer,” she adds.