The Joy Formidable | 04.01.13

Pop’s in Sauget, IL is the place for loud British bands looking to smash things such as eardrums and instruments.


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W/ Kitten, Guards
Pop’s, Sauget

Simply put, The Joy Formidable possess the ability to make as much noise as any metal or punk band out there. At several points during their return to the St. Louis area it became impossible to do anything other than stare in awe at the three piece and wonder how it’s possible for any grouping of three people and stacks of speakers to make that much noise.

Last time the band came through town was at the Peabody Opera House opening for pop-rock band Fun. at 105.7 the Point’s HoHo Show in December. Many things made that show completely wrong for the formidable British band. Lead singer Ritzy Bryan, bassist Rhydian Dafydd, and drummer Matt Thomas feed off crowd energy. The Peabody, filled with seats, and mostly the fleshy lower parts of a crowd looking to sing along to songs about being young is not ideal for a band that shows a video during one song about greed… with a man spoon feeding himself brownie batter.
Pop’s in Sauget, IL is the place for loud British bands looking to smash things such as eardrums and instruments. Passionate supporters began lining up slightly after noon for the show not scheduled to start until just after 9 P.M. Opening band Kitten set a tone. What that was I’m still not quite sure. The music was enjoyable. Close by friends wondered from the appearance of the band if we had been sent back to the 80s’, which seemed unlikely. Still the band from Los Angeles induced some dancing, and kept the attention. Both of which are admirable for tough St. Louis crowds with a tendency to talk through openers. 
Guards and guitar player/vocalist Richie Follin brought a retro vibe as well. It leaned towards 80s’ new wave, but Follin’s guitar work more impressively resembled 70s’ psychedelic rock. Also helping the atmosphere was an intensely powerful fog machine, that often left the band completely shrouded in a cloud, and that odd fake fog smell in the crowds nostrils for the majority of their set.
The Joy Formidable took the stage to a howling crowd to their first single from their extremely solid new  album Wolf’s Law, “Cholla”. All three band members know how to work a favorable crowd into a fervor, and did not waste any time doing it. Childhood friends Ritzy Bryan and Rhydian Dafydd have incredible chemistry and use every inch of the stage. Mr. Matt Thomas, as Bryan referred to him several times throughout the night, uses his side stage drum position to be closer to the crowd and interact with fans, mostly with joyous facial expressions.
The band played through around half of their new album with highlights including the bombastic “Maw Maw Song” and a serene moment amongst the madness in “Silent Treatment” which might as well been silence considering the rest of the setlist. Closing out the main set was the nearly eight minute long opening track from 2011s’ The Big Roar, “The Everchanging Spectrum of a Lie” which built up from near silence for the first minute into an ever building wall of sound. Thanks to the sound guys at Pop’s, the song was, while deafening, extremely glorious. 
After a brief breath for the band, they returned with an amped up version of “Wolf’s Law” and closed out the evening a furious version of “Whirring.” Nothing stands out more when watching the band than just how much fun they are having, and it translates directly to those in attendance. During the set’s last song Bryan,  Dafydd jammed for several minutes while storming the stage with Bryan ending up in the crowd with her guitar.
As the crowd filed out, they were either in a state of noise shock, or pure joy. Many shouted (partially because they couldn’t hear) while others just walked slowly recalling the last few hours in their lives, possibly thinking there could not be a much better use of a Monday evening. | Bruce Matlock
Photography by C. Daniel
This Ladder Is Ours
The Greatest Light Is the Greatest Shade
Little Blimp
While the Flies
Silent Treatment
Maw Maw Song
I Don’t Want to See You Like This
The Everchanging Spectrum of a Lie
Forest Serenade
Wolf’s Law

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