Scenes From The Joy Formidable's Monday Night Show at Trees.
The Joy Formidable's first-ever headlining showcase in Dallas started off rather simply.
The three-piece just walked out onto Trees' stage, settled into their assigned all-in-a-row stage positions and looked out upon their cheering audience. Then frontwoman Ritzy Bryan offered the expected wave and a smile in response.
But that smile, though: It was borderline maniacal, really. Charming, too. Infectious without question. And it encompassed Bryan's whole face and aura. She looked like a character ripped out of Soundgarden's “Black Hole Sun” video. Kinda acted like one, too, which is to say that she would spend pretty much the entirety of her band's 90-minute set contorting her face and her body and her flailing limbs with a sort of practiced, not-quite-reckless, but still wholly engaging abandon, all in the effort of making sure this crowd would fall for her band's set.
And fall this crowd would. Hard, and head over heels.
It was all deserved, too. Some of the band's actions on this night were surely planned ahead — calling out audience members they'd maybe recognized from previous gigs in the region (the band's last Dallas-area show came at December's How The Edge Stole Christmas bash out at the Verizon Theatre in Grand Prairie), expressing excitement over the fact that this was their first show atop a bill in Dallas, Bryan's pinning of a shiny old Texas Ranger badge to her dress — but they all felt authentic enough.
Yes, Bryan and her bandmates — bassist Rhydian Dafydd and drummer Matthew James Thomas — were in fine spirits last night at Trees, and their set was all the better for it.
Not that it needed much assistance: Now two LPs into their young careers, The Joy Formidable have fairly capably established themselves as a '90s-aping, wall-of-sound-employing band on the rise. Their bona fide 2011 radio hit “Whirring” from their debut LP, The Big Roar, has surely helped their cause, but this whole show felt like a case being built for this band's depth and long-term potential — an argument against “Whirring,” even.
And, aside from a lone acoustic detour, that statement was made loud and clear, emphasis on the loud part. The band shredded through pretty much entire track in their catalog en route to proving their point. And prove it they did. They left little doubt: This show may not have been a sellout — blame its Monday night date for that — but this show will almost certainly stand as the band's final one in Dallas at a small club of Trees' size. They didn't even need “Whirring” to hammer that point home.
So, as such, when “Whirring” finally came as the last song in the band's brief but satisfying encore, it felt more like a parting gift than anything else, a little something extra that the hosts wanted to make sure their guests had before leaving.
It felt like a band that knew well what it's doing. It felt like the exclamation point on a remarkable performance. It felt good. It felt special.
Whole night was, come to think of it.