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ACL Fest review: The Joy Formidable

Joe Gross
jgross@statesman.com

Editor’s note: This article was originally published October 5, 2013

Real talk: I have never seen Joy Formidable be bad. They are an almost weirdly consistent band. Add that to the fact that, between all the quasi-blues and neo-folk, it sometimes feels genuinely odd to hear a full-on, distortion-driven actual rock power trio at ACL meant that the Welsh trio - singer/guitarist Rhiannon “Ritzy” Bryan, bassist Rhydian Dafydd and drummer Matthew James Thomas — felt like a breath of loud, fresh air late Saturday afternoon at ACL. “It’s not nearly as (expletive) sweaty” where TJF is front, Bryan noted before launching into their 2008 debut single “Austere.” What is dazzling about these folks is the sheer size of the sound they make. Bryan’s voice can sometimes sound a little too Sundays for some of us who remember “Here’s Where the Story Ends?” But as song after song ended in careening peals of feedback, any reservations about poor associations is crushed by glorious waves of noise. Alternating between tracks from their debut “The Big Roar” (“The Greatest Light is the Greatest Shade,” for example) and this year’s “Wolf’s Lair” (“Cholla”), the band moves from blowout to blowout, Bryan’s guitar feeling increasingly massive as the set went on.