A Big Sound in a Small Room

April 18th, 2013

The Joy Formidable – Music Hall of Williamsburg – April 17, 2013

Now known very well for their dreamy brand of ear-shaking indie rock, the Joy Formidable spent their first night of two in New York City playing a sold-out Music Hall of Williamsburg on Wednesday. The Welsh band sped through their set at a torrid pace, only letting up here and there to engage the crowd. In tandem with the ongoing musical mayhem, the whole show was accompanied by a wide range of visuals projected behind the trio, ranging from black-and-white desert scenery to colorful graphics to a clip of willing-to-eat-anything Internet star Shoenice during the loudest parts of “Maw Maw Song.”

Lead singer Rhiannon “Ritzy” Bryan strutted across the stage in all sorts of quirky ways, especially when she wanted to accent a different part of the song she was playing. And while the Joy Formidable are perhaps most recognizable for their thrashiest, distortion- laden spacey guitar parts, this atypically small-sized show helped them display their dynamic side. During the new song “Silent Treatment,” bassist Rhydian Dafydd switched to an incredibly roomy-sounding acoustic guitar—and a few songs from their very first EP particularly showed from where the band’s musical depth comes. Of course, they returned to their anthemic ways, closing the set and bookending that shift with their biggest hit, “Whirring,” which helped send home a happy Brooklyn crowd, including many who will surely return on night two at Webster Hall. —Sean O’Kane

Photos courtesy of Diana Wong |

(Watch an interview with the Joy formidable and see them play “Silent Treatment” in a hotel room for The Bowery Presents Live.)