After seeing them destroy at the first of two sold-out nights at famed venue The Roxy, we might have to amend our list of Top 20 Badass Frontwomen in Indie and Underground Music to include Rhiannon Bryan of The Joy Formidable.
Along with bandmates Rhydian Dafydd and Matthew James Thomas, the Welsh trio made the intimate Hollywood space sound like an arena. The depth of their tunes are surprising when you realize there’s only three of them on stage — there could easily be five or six with the amount of noise emanating from the stage.
They kicked off their set with the banger “The Greatest Light is the Greatest Shade,” a song that always felt like it could’ve come right out of the Metric catalog. But that electronic sound present in that track isn’t as prevalent in the rest of the tunes they played, some of which carried a vibe similar to prominent ’90s act The Cranberries, with Bryan’s vocals sounding quite similar to Cranberries frontwoman Dolores O’Riordan at times.
There were points in between songs that the band traded hilarious banter. Bryan and Dafydd gave their drummer a hard time for a dentist trip he had taken, saying it was his first in 18 years in typical British fashion. A cake also made an appearance for Dafydd’s birthday — as well as balloons — which had Bryan remark, “I didn’t okay the fucking balloons” in a cheeky manner.
The band was playing a number of tracks from their just-released album The Hitch, all of which sounded very tasty. Watching Bryan shred on her guitar with bassist Dafydd providing some killer bass riffs and harmonies was great to watch, taking me back to when I first saw this band live back at Life is Beautiful in Las Vegas in 2013.
The performance included another similarity to Metric — their proclivity to play tracks acoustically. For the encore, Bryan and Dafydd came off the stage and into the crowd for a special version of “The Brook” — one of the tracks off the new album. The crowd remained silent as they played the beautiful track before jumping back on stage for a couple songs with the full band such as “This Ladder Is Ours.”
The acoustic song inspired a (probably) intoxicated girl to make out with some dude she didn’t know or had even talked to — before she moved up into the crowd to dance with a dude she seemingly did know. These are the kinds of feelings and actions that a Joy Formidable performance can inspire.