One of the things I love about living in the Chicago area is the many music venues the city offers and the allure they give for bands to come visit.
I’ll admit I had never heard of JBTV before a couple of months ago when I heard The Joy Formidable were playing at their studio. I’ll also admit that I’m an idiot because it turns out that JBTV is a well-established, quality music television broadcast that has been in business in Chicago for 27 years. My complete ignorance is further proven by looking through the musical guests they’ve hosted throughout the years, including Prince, Smashing Pumpkins, Lenny Kravitz, etc. They also do a great job of promoting local Chicago bands. Having now been inside their studio, I can say how nice it all is while maintaing that relaxing vibe musicians seem to love. Another great perk of JBTV is that they allow fans to sign up for their shows online and see their favorite bands/artists for free. I really cannot say enough good things about them.
I’ve been following The Joy Formidable for a couple of years and had been itching to see them live. I’m still amazed that they’re not that well known as they have every reason to be. They’ve been on late night talks shows like David Letterman and Jimmy Kimmel, toured almost all over the US and the UK, participated in many music festivals such as Lollapalooza and Glastonbury, are heard on the radio and even opened up for Paul McCartney. In fact, when Foo Fighters were one of Lolla’s headliners in 2011, Foo set up an additional Chicago show at the Metro where the Joy Formidable opened for them as well. I’m still sad I didn’t make that show as Ritzy Bryan and Dave Grohl has to be one of the coolest artist combinations ever. Ritzy reminds me of a blond, Welsh, rock version of Karen O from the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. I’d love to trade places with her for a day.
But I digress. The group began their set with The Greatest Light Is The Greatest Shade. If anyone in the audience had thought they were only a bit of a rock group, they quickly realized their mistake as the bass pounded through eardrums, the drums beat with sticks as loud and hard as possible, and Ritzy’s haunting voice sang above it all with, “‘Til two eyes out / Of the darkness / Bring hope close.”
Ritzy (lead vocals, guitar), Rhydian (bass, backing vocals), and Matt (drums, percussion) moved to other favorites like Cradle, Spectrum of a Lie, and A Heavy Abacus. A long, mostly instrumental piece with a few sung lines played for a good couple of minutes as the crowd nodded along with the transition. The end of the piece blended into Whirring, and it made me understand why people love delayed gratification so much as Whirring may be the band’s most popular track. Check here to see what I mean.
Perhaps my favorite part of the night was when the band unveiled their new single, This Ladder Is Ours, in its full glory. I wish everyone had been able to be front row and hear this amazing song live for the first time like I did. Maybe it was the atmosphere or the positive lyrics about taking advantage of every opportunity to make things better or the band was just that awesome, but it was one of those moments that I’ll remember for years to come.