The Joy Formidable and Grouplove team up for December to Remember


The Joy Formidable may be the best opening band touring right now. As part of 94.7 FM KNRK’s December to Remember concert series, The Joy Formidable and Grouplove teamed up to perform at McMenamin’s Crystal Ballroom. The same bands played together last year, only the bill was flipped, with Grouplove opening for The Joy Formidable. While Grouplove put on a great show, The Joy Formidable barely were able to scratch the surface of their catalogue with the brief 45 minute time slot they were given.

The first song of the night was “The Greatest Light is the Greatest Shade.” After only a few seconds, it was apparent the band was ready to make the most of every second they were given.

“Wolf’s Law,” The Joy Formidable’s second album, is due to be released on Jan. 22 2013. The band previewed three songs, “This Ladder Is Ours,” “Cholla” and “Maw Maw.”  The latter song had a heavy riff perfect for headbangers.

The last song they played was “Whirring.” At eight minutes long, this song was short compared to the last time they came to Portland. Ritzy Bryan, lead singer and guitar, handed her guitar to the crowd before grabbing another guitar to finish the song.

After their set was finished, the guitar was passed around in the crowd and provided background noise as the stage was set up for Grouplove. The guitar remained in the crowd for about five minutes before the road crew retrieved it.

Bryan mentioned a possible return to Portland in March. If this is true, this will be a show not to miss.

Grouplove sprinted onto the stage blasting “Monster” by Kanye West before opening with “Itchin’ on a Photograph.” Within seconds, Grouplove’s contagious level of energy had overtaken the crowd and everyone was jumping. If there is such thing as a happy mosh pit, Grouplove has discovered how to start them. The only fans who received even a minor injury were the ones who were dropped on their heads while crowd surfing.

After the initial adrenaline rush that is a Grouplove concert, fans welcomed a few slower songs and instead of jumping, they just sang along. The energy was once again picked up with “Love Will Save Your Soul.”

Singer Christian Zucconi received a brief break from singing as lead guitarist Andrew Wessen fronted the stage with the upbeat “Spun.” Immediately following “Spun” was “Chloe,” a song sung by bassist Sean Gadd. Gadd wandered all across the stage and up to the front of the crowd, forcing the crowd to sing along and jump on the bouncy floors of the Crystal Ballroom.

Upon taking the microphone again, Zucconi had the entire audience howling like wolves at the beginning of “Close Your Eyes and Count to Ten.” The regular set finished with “Slow,” complete with glowing neon blue drumsticks flashing sixteenth notes with the lights out.

Returning from the encore break, Grouplove played “Cruel and Beautiful World” with no microphones and unplugged acoustic guitars. Fans were encouraged to approach as close as possible to the stage so the song would be audible. What could have been a failed idea turned out to be one of the highlights of the night.

The now Platinum hit, “Tongue Tied” proved that it was possible for the crowd to reach another level of energy. The floors almost transformed into a giant trampoline, with nearly every fan jumping.

The final song of the night was “Colours.” As the last moments of the show winded down, the crowd gathered as close to the stage as they could, and helped Ryan Rabin, drummer crowd surf for a few seconds, before they almost dropped him, too. Zucconi, who currently has two broken ribs also decided to stage dive.

As a whole, this concert received a B+ grade. Both bands put on great shows, and the high level energy the crowd displayed is nearly impossible to replicate, but the Joy Formidable simply were not given enough time to play. Had they been given another 15 minutes, this very easily would have been an A-worthy show.