Welsh alternative trio The Joy Formidable released their third full length album Hitch last month. The record continues their trend toward anthemic, stadium-ready rockers. They last played DC back in September to a large audience at the Landmark Music Festival, but on Wednesday last week they returned to play a smaller show at the 9:30 Club.
While the band was ostensibly touring for the new album, their set reached wide over their entire catalog with Hitch represented by only “Radio of Lips” and “The Last Thing On My Mind” in the main set, as well as by a track too new to have made the album, “Passerby.” Interestingly, more heavily represented was their very first EP from 2008, A Balloon Called Moaning – the band opened the show with the first song from that EP, “The Greatest Light is the Greatest Shade,” and followed that up with the inclusion of “Ostrich” and “Cradle” later in the set. Their other two albums were represented as well, with “Little Blimp” and the title track from 2013’s Wolf’s Law and set closer “The Ever Changing Spectrum of a Lie” from 2011’s The Big Roar.
Yet the band was far from finished, returning to play a four-song encore. Singer/guitarist Ritzy Bryan noted the band’s surprise that so many people had come to see them (while not sold out, the venue was quite full), but said that the band wanted to try something which they did in smaller clubs – coming out into the audience and playing acoustically and unamplified for “The Brook” from the new album. It was a nice idea that probably worked well for people in the center of the floor where the band set up. For those standing further out, it was little more than several minutes of annoyance at those rude enough to talk loudly through it, and waiting for the band to return to the stage. That they did, staying to perform three more songs – “The Leopard and the Lung” from Wolf’s Law, “Liana” from the new album, and “Whirring” from the first EP.
Manchester, UK art rockers Everything Everything opened the show with an energetic set unfortunately marred by a poor sound mix that placed far too much emphasis on the bass drum at the expense of nearly everything else.