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Sunday, May 1, 2011

Joy Formidable, Webster Hall 4.29.11 (and how I barely made it)

I wrote not long ago that time management is essential in Suburban Man's life.  That said, NEVER schedule a softball game the same night as a concert in NYC.  Friday night was an all time scramble, and it probably did not have to be.

After an hour and a half of tremendous softball action we packed the car with friends and attempted to get to Webster Hall for 9pm.  Departure time from New Jersey, 7:45pm.  Navigating the urban roads never really concerns me.  I am kind of a control freak and my car gives me ultimate power.  I control the radio.  I control the route.  I park where I want.  My rules.

Until the Holland Tunnel is closed due to police activity.  As the billboards and radio announced this unexpected disaster plans had to be formulated.  (I would later learn there was a shooting inside the NY bound tunnel that shut it down til after midnight.  Note, criminals please refrain from obstructing my entry to NYC when I have concert tickets!!!)  The Pulaski Skyway and Turnpike were already a parking lot.  Lincoln Tunnel was backed up forever.  GW Bridge was an option, but Webster Hall is on the Lower East Side.  I refuse to travel that far and run the risk of missing the show.

Suburban Man HAS to be able to think fast and adapt to change.  And, in an instant, Secaucus Junction park and ride was the solution.  Opened a few years ago as an attempt to connect many train lines to a central hub, I had long avoided it.   Primarily, this station did not have parking.  It now does.  Trains to NYC come about every 5 minutes and I think we made the 8:41pm.  10 minutes later we are at Penn Station.  A quick cab ride from 7th avenue gets us to the venue at 9:00.  First round in hand the house lights went off.  The timing was great, but there was inadequate chill time.  I find I need an opening act to get into the evening.  Having been rushed and commuting like it was a work day was less than ideal.  Props to the Mrs for taking the train in to work, then out to coach the softball game, then back for the show.  There were moments I feared an NJT conductor might be harmed.  Since I railed (pardon the pun) on them a few weeks back let me be the first to say Secaucus Junction saved us Friday.

By the time Joy Formidable hit the stage I was ready for rock.  And rock is exactly what this power trio does.  Starting with a rousing version of "The Ever Chaging Spectrum of a Lie" Ritzy Bryan (vocals, guitar) Rhydian Dafydd (bass, vocals) and drummer Matt Thomas brought high energy and good fun to a packed, but not sold out Webster Hall.  Bryan's confidence on stage provided ample entertainment.  She prowled the stage playing hard guitar licks and belting out harder vocals.  There was some questionable microphone engineering than seemed to muddle her voice at times.  Overall she has a strong presence and paired with Dafydd's harmonies the sound was fresh and upbeat.  Thomas' percussion work was relentless and full of spirit.  As my wife said, he looked a bit like Animal from The Muppets.  It was a breath of fresh air seeing a trio bring such polished noise without 6 or 7 back-up players and computer assistance.  "Austere" and "Cradle" were other highlights in this ballad free (YEAH!) show.

As they finished their quick set with their new single "Whirring" a giant, inflatable cat appeared front stage.  Not sure why and not really caring.  Thinking these are some kids having fun doing what they love.  Stage presence has been checked off for sure.  Bryan's bravado reminded me why I soured on Liz Phair years ago.  Phair live was stiff and nervous.  Bryan wants the World to be watching.  I will be tuned in for sure in hopes a nice, long career awaits them.

For more info:  "Cradle"  "Whirring"

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