The Joy Formidable Return to Columbus
There’s something to be said for watching a band win over a crowd like the Brooklyn band, Fang Island, did Thursday night. If there’s one thing that can be said about Fang Island’s three guitar pronged inde/prog/choral/metalish rock, it is joyful. That can be a little disconcerting to the unfamiliar concert goer, and it was evident on most of the faces in the crowd as Fang Island kicked off their set. By the time the dueling leads kicked in on the second song, “Illinois,” that confusion was replaced with smiles. Any remaining doubters were converted with the three song block of “Coach Life”, “Welcome Wagon”, and “Sideswiper.” With each song, the cheers got a little louder, a few more hands went in the air, and a lot more heads were bopping. When you don’t need to solicit the crowd to clap along, you know you’ve succeeded as an opening act. At the end of the set, a girl smiled to her cohort next to her and remarked, “They were really fun.” Exactly.
The second lead singer and guitarist, Ritzy Bryan, opened her mouth and sang the opening line “Here we are bending feet” from “A
Heavy Abacus,” The Joy Formidable had the Newport in the palm of its hand. Ritzy, with her platinum hair and boundless energy, made it impossible for you to take your eyes off her. You know those people that seem born to be on a stage? Ritzy is clearly one of those people. That’s not to say the two gents didn’t shine as well. With Rhydian Dafydd’s hip shaking bass line in “Austere” to Matt Thomas’ almost metal sounding drums, the whole band was completely in sync, feeding off the energy from each other and the crowd. The trio from Wales didn’t let up the whole night with the tight rocker “The Magnifying Glass” to the soaring “The Greatest Light is the Greatest Shadow.” “Whirring,” as expected, got the biggest pop from the crowd, yet The Joy Formidable had the confidence not to play it as their closer. That was “I Don’t Want to See You Like This” that ended with Ritzy in the crowd, inflated black cat heads, flying drum sticks, and a wall of sound. Even after all that, they still had the energy to give one more song as for the encore.
Maybe it’s that Bryan and Dafydd are childhood friends. Maybe this trio just found each other at the right time and place. Maybe it’s just how they are. But, you clearly got the sense that The Joy Formidable loved not only playing live, but specifically loved playing among each other. For the lack of a better word, joy is what they exuded on stage Thursday night, and the Newport couldn’t help but feel it. That made the concert more just a band playing some of your favorite songs. It made it an experience. At the end you were certain that there is not a venue out there The Joy Formidable couldn’t fill with their music and energy.
Bradford Iten; Columbus Wired