Joywave is an alternative rock band from Rochester, New York. Since 2010, they have released mixtapes, EPs, two full length albums and toured nationwide, garnering a fan base that identifies with the band on a personal level. What draws their loyal fan base is the snarky persona, sarcastic stage antics and hometown-dedication that has set them apart from the growing number of alt-rock bands. Over Thanksgiving break, I flew to Dallas to see Joywave on their “Thanks. Thanks for Coming” Tour 2017. It was my fifth time seeing them, but my first time seeing them as headliners. Obviously I was excited, but unsure of what to expect. Their second full-length album, Content, which was released just last year, has a more mysterious vibe and darker aesthetic than their previous music, and I was curious as to how this would translate into a show. It is safe to say that they followed through and stayed true to the heart of Content.
There was something different about this show than any other time I have seen them; something that only the a cappella rock vocals being played during stage setup, the deep monitor hum of “Content,” and a distinct lack of spotlights could conjure up — an ethereal, spooky vibe that carried throughout the show. “The Thanks. Thanks for Coming” Tour is an entirely new experience for both old and new Joywave fans.
Joywave opened with the eerie title track, “Content,” which ensured that they started off with a bang. After the heavy beat drop, the crowd went wild, keeping up with the band’s energetic stage presence. They followed “Content” with “Now,” a setlist staple, and then frontman Daniel Armbruster informed the crowd that this is indeed Joywave, and they are from Rochester, New York. The band then dove into what is probably the most popular single from Content, “It’s a Trip.” It was the one song I took out my phone to fully record, and after that I decided to stay fully captivated with the show in front of me.
After a setlist riddled with old and new songs — even a performance of “Golden State,” a fan favorite from the band’s 2012 release, Koda Vista — Armbruster launched into the opening lines of “Going to a Place.” As the song was winding down, all of the band exited the stage except keys player Benjamin Bailey. He continued playing solo for a few minutes, and fans responded to the intermission with “woo’s” and shouts of “yeah, Ben!”
Soon enough the band came back out, instruments in hand. Armbruster launched into the most personal moment of the night — a solo of “Confidence” leading into “Nice House.” After that, the opening drum beat of what is perhaps their catchiest and most well-known tune, “Tongues,” began to play, and I knew to enjoy every moment because the show was coming to an end. Finally, they ended the night with the appropriately titled “Thanks. Thanks for Coming,” to which each member exited the stage one by one.
Towards the end of the show, lead guitarist Joseph Morinelli handed guitar picks to some of the front row audience and drummer Paul Brenner handed out a drumstick. I was happy to see this, because it shows that they are still the same guys I first saw open for Bleachers on the crowded Music Farm stage in 2015 and met after a House of Blues show in 2016: incredibly down to earth — but still clever, sarcastic and a little bit off the wall. Even their new bass player, Jeremiah Crespo, exhibited the same charisma and energy as their original bass player, Sean Donnelly, and solidified my notion that while it is a new era, this is the same Joywave.
Nearly every one of the four times I saw Joywave as an opener, I was one of maybe two or three people there primarily for them. So this time, much to my delight, everyone was there for Joywave and the energy was incredible. After years of practice and this recent string of sold out shows, these guys truly know how to give an audience what they want, and keep them coming back again and again. Dallas, TX definitely will not be my last time traveling for Joywave. In February, the “Thanks. Thanks for Coming” Tour Leg 2 will be hitting Atlanta, GA, Carrboro, NC and Nashville, TN. I will definitely be headed to at least one of these shows and I hope that others will be willing to go the distance as well.
Featured image by Alex Kreye / @twiinpeaks.
“Why You Should See…” is CisternYard Media’s music column highlighting artists with upcoming shows in the Charleston area. Written by your fellow students and music fans, we’re here to make sure you don’t miss the show.