Recap: The Joy Formidable at Englert


photo by Margaret Kispert/The Daily Iowan

If you haven’t seen the five-foot-something Ritzy Bryan perform, you wouldn’t have anticipated the energy her Welsh alternative rock outfit The Joy Formidable brought to the Englert Theater on Thursday night.

Opening with the “The Greatest Light is the Greatest Shade,” the group, which also consists of bassist Rhydian Dafydd and drummer Matthew Thomas, brought the crowd to their feet with their wall of sound and guitar heavy jams, complimented by Bryan’s captivating alto vocals.

Her voice utilizes an articulate and straightforward pop sound while still producing a raw, punk rock feel. You could liken this band to My Bloody Valentine in that the music seemingly brings as many different and heavy noises as possible to hit the listener.

Click here to view a photo slideshow of the show.

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The fact that they are able to accomplish this with only three people is beyond me. The group also used pre-recorded keyboard loops and their voices as harmonizing instruments to create a unique style that is not only technically advanced and unusual in nature, but also quite commercially accessible.

Each band member presented their personalities differently on stage, but came together with a vibrant group dynamic that kept listeners in tune. Thomas slammed on the drums and shot wild and entertaining faces at the audience throughout, encouraging the crowd to clap their hands.

Dafydd was equally engaging with the fans and occasionally softened the tone by bringing melodic piano riffs into the equation on multiple occasions.

Bryan poured herself into the lyrics and brought an element of strength to her guitar playing, offering straight rock through her Stratocaster through the show.

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