I’ll Take the Welsh Treatment

Written by on September 4, 2013

The Joy Formidable LiveThis past summer brought amazing acts into Houston. Bands and performers that typically turn to Austin all seemed to seize the city at once. With so many shows and festivals like Free Press Summer Fest taking our city by storm, it was a challenge to keep up with it all. While FPSF 2013 was an unparalleled success, I found that my favorite performance of the summer was given by an up-and-coming trio from North Wales. Formed in 2007, The Joy Formidable has had roaring success touring with Muse and headlining across the world. The group had their first Houston performance in May 2013.

When I first discovered The Joy Formidable, I was sitting at my computer with the window open inviting the Hawaiian breeze. I stumbled across a review that featured an oddly beautiful looking EP cover. I listened and immediately became a fan. The EP, “A Balloon Called Moaning,” captivated my attention from start to finish. Needless to say when their first full length studio album, “The Big Roar,” became available in 2011, I was all over it.

The beginning of this year saw the release of The Joy Formidable’s most recent work, “Wolf’s Law.” They master charming and beautifully composed melodies that resonate with listeners at deep levels. Singer/guitarist Ritzy Bryan, Bassist Rhydian Dafydd and drummer Matthew James Thomas achieve a harmonious musical depth that many cannot. So far “Wolf’s Law” has spawned four singles including “This Ladder Is Ours,” “Cholla,” “Silent Treatment” and title track “Wolf’s Law.”

Their success overseas has been immense, so I was surprised to see that they were scheduled to perform at a venue as intimate as Fitzgerald’s. This excited me greatly, but I wasn’t sure what crowd they would attract. I had not met many people in Houston who knew of The Joy Formidable. But alas, I walked up to the second level of the venue and was welcomed by a huge crowd. So I grabbed a beer, like I do, then took a spot at the back of the crowd. After the fantastic Los Angeles-based band, Io Echo, performed, the moment I had been waiting for since 2010 arrived.

One by one the bright, smiling faces of the trio took to the stage. First Matthew then Rhydian and finally, Ritzy. Once the stage lights illuminated the crowd Ritzy’s face lit up with surprised delight. I guess she had expectations similar to mine. For the next two hours they blew the crowd away with an enthusiastic and exciting performance. The show was comprised of a great variety of songs from both studio albums. About halfway through the show Ritzy looked at us and said, “This is unbelievable. You guys are fuckin’ great!” There were many F-Bombs dropped that night, and each one was more adorable than the last. Do all Welsh women curse with such an endearing tone?

This must have been the feeling my father had when he saw Stevie Ray Vaughan in the 70’s. The feeling a crowd of sweaty, long-haired “degenerates” had when Metallica was shoving metal up their asses in a small California club. That feeling when you know you are witnessing something special. The moment you realize you are a part of musical history. The Joy Formidable are making waves in America. They are destined to be one of the biggest bands in the world. It may take some time, but I can feel it in my bones. To bear witness to their first performance in our great city fills me with pride and gratitude. Because I know that one day I will look at my peers or my children, and I will be able to share my history with one of the most talented and promising groups in the musical world.

The Joy Formidable will be performing in Austin at Emo’s on October 5.


By Nick Page

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