Joy Formidable Play Awe Inspiring Show at Union Transfer

Union Transfer ran the spectrum of explosive noise on Thursday when “The Joy Formidable” played with support from “A Place to Bury Strangers” and “Exitmusic“. The distinct sounds of each band gave the audience a primer on the full range of modern electronic, guitar-based music.

Exitmusic took the stage first, bringing to life the deconstructed, layered sound found on their debut EP, “From Silence”. Aleksa Palladino delivered her haunting vocals that have quickly become a signature element of the band. The band opened with “The Sea,” and by the second song, “Modern Age,” the dark and dreamy sound, punctuated by powerfully bass-heavy drums, had already captured the attention of everyone in the venue. The duo, Palladino and guitarist Devon Church, played with a live drummer, frequently playing with mallets (stripped down to carry intensity through simplicity), and a synth player, creating sounds that evoked a storm or crash in the distance. By the end of their set, the crowd was mesmerized, lulled into the dreamscape that is Exitmusic.

Next up, A Place to Bury Strangers quickly took over the dreamscape and created their own guitar heavy noise rock. If ever Don Draper were creating an ad campaign for ear plugs, he’d have a guaranteed winner with A Place to Bury Strangers as part of the pitch. The volume and intensity created by Oliver Ackermann (guitar), Dion Lunadon (bass), and Jay Space (drums) could blow out a few ear drums, but the listener wouldn’t even realize it, hypnotized by the wall of sound. They hid behind this wall by projecting most of the light onto the crowd and playing as dark shadows emerging from the smog. Lunadon jumped into the crowd while Space created a seemingly never ending drum beat. The crowd joined in to a perfect crescendo. In their final song, guitar effects sounded like explosions in a warehouse. Ackermann threw his guitar to the ground and the band exited the stage, leaving behind a wall of feedback.

Finally, Welsh trio The Joy Formidable jumped out on stage and guitarist and vocalist Ritzy Bryan and bassist Rhydian Dafydd did a bit of head-banging as they launched into their opener, “A Heavy Abacus.” The group flew through the first four songs with no downtime in between songs, until the slow build to an explosive ending on “The Everchanging Spectrum of a Lie,” was met with huge cheers from the crowd. With Matt Thomas on drums, the Joy Formidable provided the audience ample opportunity to jump around and dance, at one point creating a small mosh pit.

After a short break, Bryan and Dafydd returned to the stage for their encore, showing the crowd as much love as the crowd showed them, meeting each outstretched arm with high fives. Dafydd provided the acoustic guitar and set the stage for Bryan’s beautiful vocals on “Silent Treatment.” Thomas returned to the stage, bringing with him a vegetable platter that he shared with the crowd up front. After some fun with the crowd, they brought out a harp player to start off fan favorite “Whirring.” From the delicate harp sounds, Bryan and Dafydd built up to a frenzy, jumping all over the stage. Dafydd helped out Thomas, pounding on the cymbals with his fist. It was a joyous and awe inspiring show.

[story by MK, photo credits: Laura Lynn]

Check out our interview with Ritzy Bryan here.

Full photo gallery below:

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