Trees (Dallas, TX)
– Words by Michal Elizabeth Smith / Photos by James Villa –
“The World Needs More Bands Like The Joy Formidable”
The first time I saw The Joy Formidable was two years ago at the Verizon Theater in Grand Prairie. Local radio station, 102.1 The Edge hosted their annual How the Edge Stole Christmas concert in which the band was invited to play. I was not familiar with the band or the type of music in which they played; however, I was hooked after the first song. Lead guitarist and vocalist Ritzy Bryan shredded her guitar like no one I had ever seen. Bryan and bassist Rhydian Dafydd were practically on top of the drum set, hitting cymbals left and right as well as each other. Bryan was the epitome of rock, smashing her guitar on stage during their last song. Their passion and rage held my attention throughout the night. I experienced something quite similar during their recent show at Trees in Dallas.
The doors opened at 7 p.m., and I arrived just a few short minutes before 6 p.m. hoping to be the first in-line; however I ended up being eighth. Minutes prior to being let in, I noticed that the line had begun to wrap around the entire building. We were finally directed into the building around 7:15 p.m. and after securing a spot right against the stage, I hastened to the merch booth where I discovered a sign saying, “Spend $30 and meet the band afterwards.” I immediately dispatched to the ATM. I returned in time to purchase my thirty dollars worth of merchandise and receive my special wristband. I waited impatiently for their stage arrival.
First to the stage was Los Angeles’ Io Echo who did a spectacular job of opening the show, making the wait entirely worthwhile. Their set lasted only a mere thirty minutes which felt altogether too short. I as well as many others could have listened to them perform several more songs.
The lights dimmed and moments later The Joy Formidable entered the stage. The crowd went insane, including me. They started off their set with one of my favorite songs “Cholla” from their latest album Wolf’s Law. They played a flawless fourteen song set list in which three of them were encores.
Both Bryan and Dafydd fanned their guitars through the hands of the audience. Because I was right up against the stage, I was lucky enough to get to strum Bryan’s beat up Fender Stratocaster. The trio continuously smiled at each other throughout the show alluding to genuine camaraderie. Clearly, their smiles were contagious because I as well as many others wore the brightest of smiles during the entire show. The connection in which they have with each other is not something than can be counterfeited. The band ended their phenomenal set with a song titled, “Whirring” off of their debut album The Big Roar.
Once the show ended, security directed me up the stairs to await the arrival of the band. We were sent individually because the band wanted the meet and greet to be personal. I was tenth in-line, and after twenty minutes I was sent down the walkway. Bryan greeted me a soft hello and the most sincere of hugs.
I was caught off guard when Dafydd asked how I was doing. I had never come in contact with a musician who got on that personal of a level with me. I told them my house recently flooded and my signed poster from How the Edge Stole Christmas was somewhere deep in a storage facility in Grand Prairie; Bryan responded by saying that if it is destroyed to let her know and they would send me another one. I was truly touched by their sincerity. This is a band that genuinely cares for their fans and the world needs more musicians like them.