Fresno Beehive

The Joy Formidable lives up to its name with loud, energetic show

The Joy Formidable on stage at Strummer’s in Fresno.
The Joy Formidable on stage at Strummer’s in Fresno. The Fresno Bee

One wonders if the The Joy Formidable picked its name because it encapsulates the band’s live performances.

It was the feeling I had, standing front-of-stage as the Welsh rock trio worked through its hour-plus set at Strummer’s last night. There was a powerful sense of awe-inspiring joy.

When band came through Visalia last year, it promised a full US tour to coincide with the release of it upcoming album, “Hitch.” The album was released in March and the band has been on the road since.

On stage, the trio made an impressive amount of noise, especially on the extended outro of the closing number, which had singer/guitarist Rhiannon “Ritzy” Bryan kneeling, almost prayer like, on the board of her guitar’s effects pedals.

The Joy Formidable is known for borrowing on post punk and shoegaze, its songs often cascading into a layered wall of effects, but Bryan, bassist Rhydian Dafyd and drummer Matthew James Thomas did little actual shoe gazing.

The trio where a singular mass of energy from the moment they took the stage, even during the quieter moments; the stripped down acoustic “Silent Treatment” for one.

It’s moving to watch musicians who are so into playing they can barely contain themselves.

It tends to rub off on the crowd. The show wasn’t packed by any means, but the dance floor was full and everyone was jumping and dancing and in some cases full-on thrashing about with the band.

It was obvious that those of us who gathered on this random Thursday night did so with a singular purpose: To experience joy. Formidable at it might be.

Stray observations:

▪ The show opener was the San Diego power trio The New Regime. They played impressively loud prog-ish rock with a kind of throwback vibe that I super enjoyed. By show of hands, only two people in the crowd had ever heard of the band. That was cool with front man Ilan Rubin. If you’re an out-of-towner opening a club show, you’re going to be playing to new audiences. It’s the point of going on tour, he said.

Oddly, Rubin’s other band is Angles and Airwaves, where he plays with Tom DeLonge.

▪ The word “fuck,” in all its derivations, sounds much cooler with a Welsh accent. Bryan used the word liberally through out the show.

▪ The stage was packed. This was the most equipment and crew I’ve seen for a club show.

▪ That included a two-foot (or maybe three-foot) gong behind the drummer. It was really just for one song – “Maw Maw Song” – but used to great effect.

▪ I should really invest in a set of earplugs.

Joshua Tehee: 559-441-6479, @joshuatehee

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