Concert Review: The Joy Formidable, April 2, The Horseshoe Tavern

joy formidable

Toronto – The Joy Formidable exude an incredible amount of energy and intensity in their live performance.  One might even say it was formidable if one was given to making cheesy references to the band’s name in their reviews.  Guilty as charged, I suppose.

Opening with The Everchanging Spectrum Of A Lie, they played their first number as if it were their last.  Starting out full throttle with an epic number, they pretty much maintained that level throughout their performance.  Several songs descended into waves of noise and feedback bolstered by powerhouse drumming that occasionally reached an almost death metal/grindcore level of intensity.  Drummer Matt Thomas is one of the hardest hitting drummers I’ve seen lately.

Speaking of hard-hitting, bassist Rhydian Dafydd was literally hitting a drum onstage during one song.  With his fist.  Very hard.  Several times.  I chatted with the band before the show and mentioned how I had seen him taking out his aggression on a drum in a similar fashion during their SXSW Fader Fort show.  He claimed not to remember punching a drum that night, yet here he was doing it all over again.  So either he does this on occasion when the mood strikes or I planted the seed in his head, convincing him that he must pound the hell out of that drum.  I’ll go with the latter as it makes me feel very self-important, like I’ve got a lot of influence.

Vocalist/guitarist Ritzy Bryan is full of kinetic energy, often moving about the stage in spontaneous, jerky movements.  It was interesting to watch her eyes during the performance as she had an intense kind of stare going on much of the time.  It was the best use of eyes to convey a certain mood/effect since James Callis played Gaius Baltar on Battlestar Galactica.

During a live performance, bands will often build up momentum during a set, but when you start off as strong as The Joy Formidable did, it’s hard to build up to anything.  In fact in some ways, each song felt a bit like a mini concert, building to a head each time.  Yet by ending their main set in an orgy of distortion, smashing/beating on stuff, and playing with their effects pedals, it really did have a sense of finality to it that made the encore almost seem like an afterthought.  Yet after a brief break wherein their crew (which included one guy who amusingly sat in the back corner of the stage during their entire set) re-tuned their instruments, they did return for two more songs, capping off the evening in a satisfying way. 

Joy Formidable – The Greatest Light Is The Greatest Shade by The Drift Record Shop

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Posted on by Paul in Concerts

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