Live at Bumbershoot 2013, Day 3: The Joy Formidable

Bumbershoot, Live Performances, Live Reviews
Jake Uitti
all photos by Morgen Schuler (view set)

As Americans we are no longer surprised by European artists who bring their amazing music to our humble shores. The Joy Formidable is another among the ever-growing list of impressive British talent that has taken the US by storm. In 2007, childhood best friends Rhiannon "Ritzy" Bryan and Rhydian Dafydd left their previous band Sidecar Kisses, added drummer Matthew James Thomas to the mix, and The Joy Formidable was born. Their music really reached a broad audience when the dazzling track "Endtapes" was featured on the ever-popular The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn soundtrack. Since then they've released the critically acclaimed album, Wolf's Law, which took full advantage of Bryan's dreamy voice and the band's knack for dynamic, sweeping rhythms. Today at Bumbershoot audiences get to experience the magic firsthand.

The Joy Formidable warmed up at the music lounge as the audience sauntered in taking their seats. “Gong” a soundman said from high up and a huge gong was sound-checked before the packed house! “You may say we have a longstanding – longterm – relationship with our next band,” said DJ Kevin Cole of The Joy Formidable. Both the band and KEXP have partnered on a number of performances over the years, quite happily. And today was no different. The trio launched on stage, filling the music lounge with distorted guitars and a GIANT drum sound. The blond-bobbed lead singer Ritzy’s voice was playful over the otherwise heavy instrumentation, the rhythm of which matched by house lights.

The Joy Formidable was the perfect band to finish out the KEXP music lounge stage. With elements of power-pop, enticing vocals and vocal accompaniments, a touch of grace and energy to spare, the band owned their performance, perhaps unlike any act prior. The buzz in the lounge was palpable. And Ritzy’s red dress was stunning!

The trio, which plays again tonight at 10PM, was more than memorable, especially when they sang in unison. They’re the type of band that, if you were wandering in a crowded festival, you would be attracted to like music-loving insects to the melodic sun. With most performers you can follow their hands to see the origin of the sound, but there is no chance with The Joy Formidable: the sum of their parts is SO MUCH BIGGER than the parts themselves. “Thank you, Seattle,” said Ritzy at the end of the show on yet another beautiful Bumbershoot day, “The sun is always shining when we visit! It was a real joy!”

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