The Joy Formidable Play Intimiate Show In Philadelphia
The Welsh rock band The Joy Formidable swung by Philadelphia on Monday night, playing an intimate charity show to a crowd at the North Star Bar in the Fairmount section of Philadelphia. The crowd, which had been limited to just 300 people, was treated to a combustible hour-long set from the budding alt-rock band.
Formed from the ashes of Sidecar Kisses, The Joy Formidable formed in 2007 and released the eight-track EP A Balloon Called Moaning in 2008. Containing some early hits such as “Austere” and “Whirring,” the EP evolved into the explosive full-length The Big Roar, which debuted in January 2011. Made up of lead singer/guitar player Ritzy Bryan, bassist Rhydian Davies, and drummer Matt Thomas, the trio began to receive considerable attention from the festival circuit this year – playing Lollapalooza, Leeds, Reading, and Glastonbury while also opening for a leg of the Foo Fighters U.S. Tour.
Their missed appearance at Philadelphia’s Popped! Festival in September led The Joy Formidable to the remote corner of Philadelphia. As an act of atonement, the band promised a free gig at The North Store Bar with the only stipulation being that each attendee donate a toy for the Toys for Tots Charity at drop-off points that were moderated by Philadelphia radio station 104.5. The band themselves also contributed a trove of toys to the charity that doubled as the backdrop on their stage. Bryan confessed to the audience that she enjoyed buying the toys a bit too much.
The group opened with “Heavy Abacus,” which starts with a mad crash of drums and guitar, aptly setting the tone for the set. The audience in attendance, which unfortunately did not match the energy of the band, brought its best efforts on the group’s better-known songs like “Austere” and “Whirring.” Rhydian Davies not only distinguished himself by laying down a series of thick bass lines (most notably on “Austere”), sings remarkably well with Bryan. Drummer Matt Thomas, meanwhile, is a show unto himself. By using a heavy metal-style double bass pedal, the heavy-hitting Thomas lends additional thunder to his drum kit.
Ritzy Bryan, who had delivered her guitar parts and lyrics with equal intensity throughout the show, threw down her guitar face-first as “Whirring” drew to a close before cooly walking off the stage to wrap up the hour-long set.
By bringing such energy to compliment a strong array of songs, The Joy Formidable has a vibe of a band that is on the brink of becoming much larger than the tiny stage of the North Star Bar allowed on Tuesday evening.