The Joy Formidable at Upstate Concert Hall (4/14/2013)

2 May

The Joy Formidable TicketIt’s only a few weeks late!

Since the old Northern Lights venue in Clifton Park, NY has changed hands and been renamed The Upstate Concert Hall the shows have gotten a lot better.  1) It seems as though they have finally put some capable person in charge of the acoustics so that they don’t sound absolutely awful at every show, and 2) They actually attract acts worth seeing; there are still bullshit stoner cover bands which wrangle the desperate, scene-less 40&50-somethings, but NYC’s A$AP Rocky was in Upstate New York a few months back, Foals play there this coming Monday and Wales’ The Joy Formidable played two weekends ago.

I was actually surprised to learn that this wasn’t the first time that they had played there.  According to the emcee from WEQX, the Vermont-based Alternative Rock FM station that hosted the event, this was TJF’s second time across the pond and in Clifton Park.  For better or worse my girlfriend and I weren’t able to get there for the opening band(s) as we had taken an extended day trip that Sunday.  We arrived just fifteen or so minutes before The Joy Formidable ascended the modest four-step staircase, and red lights illuminated the cheering crowd.The Joy Formidable Aside:  You more regular readers may be wondering why I don’t have any pictures or videos of the live shows any longer.  Since the explosion in popularity of tablets on top of the Swiss Army Cell Phone which acts a telephone/camera/camcorder/computer/etc… I have become reluctant to snap photographs at shows, or in general, outside of the low resolution bullshit header pic that I took of my ticket (taken with my dumpy phone because I’m too poor to own a camera that isn’t disposable).  It’s not that I don’t think documentation or artful, candid photos are important; however, I do struggle, even standing 6’3″, with those concert-goers who happily hold their iPads up above their heads for a song’s duration.  It is rude and distracting.

The crowd was much more tolerable than other recent concerts (namely Dirty Projectors at Skidmore); it ran the gamut from X-handed high schoolers to buzzed math teachers.  And the music was good!  I really liked The Joy Formidable’s 2011 debut LP The Big Roar and although their sophomore record, Wolf’s Law, had me bored at times, the live performance charged up a few tracks.  Singer/guitarist Rhiannon (Ritzy) Bryan, bassist Rhydian Davies and drummer Matthew (Mr.) Thomas played with an intense vigor and the tightness of a practiced trio.  A pink, wolfen silhouette beamed brightly during their newer material, but nothing was brighter than Mr. Thomas’ shoes which Rhydian sniped at playfully between songs.

Aside:  I was never disappointed in the band.  I was disappointed with a miniature Henry Rollins-looking fan; close-cropped hair, beater/sleeveless button-up combo and a pair of shorts who took every opportunity to throw his shirt off and mosh against teenage girls and a giant, harmless looking toad of a man.  It is likely that he would’ve been able to beat my ass, even at 5’3″ 110 lbs., but that didn’t stop my menacing glares.  Why are you moshing at a Joy Formidable Show?  Find a shitty high school punk band that you can catch after the gym.  Don’t get me wrong; TJF were loud and exciting, but I was able to keep my shirt on and refrain from Parkinson’s-esque shadow-boxing.  He reminded me of the misplaced, aggressive assholes at the emo shows I went to in high school.  Some of them were my friends…

The Joy Formidable’s set, if nothing else, was the perfect length.  Their formal set which lasted just over an hour gave way to a two-song encore, including their wonderful “Whirring” (which was listed in my Top Tracks of 2011).  It was basically and hour and a half of solid live entertainment before some polite salutations and waves.  For a band with a catalog that is relatively minute I couldn’t have asked for a better show.  Plus, Ritzy looked cute in that spritely sort of way.  So did my girlfriend.  Whatever.  What’s important is that the band said that they would absolutely be back.

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