Archive for the ‘Cuffed Up’ Category

[ATTENDED: October 27, 2022] The Joy Formidable [rescheduled from December 16, 2021]

I was vaguely familiar with The Joy Formidable when they sold out Boot and Saddle in 2019.  I’d actually gotten a ticket to the non-sold-out show the next night, but stayed home because it was Thanksgiving vacation and we were staying in for the weekend.

Then I missed them when they opened for The Front Bottoms recently.  We had tickets but it didn’t pan out.  But I knew I had tickets to them headlining which I’d much rather see anyway.

And WOW, what a fantastic show.  I am now very bummed that I haven’t seen them fifty times.  But Ritzy Bryan said they’d be back in 2023, so I’m lining up to get tickets already (not really).

The Joy Formidable are a trio: Rhiannon “Ritzy” Bryan (guitar and vocals), Rhydian Dafydd (bass keys and vocals) and Matt James Thomas (drums).  They play alternative rock, but with an especially weird feel to it.  And sometimes, like when playing live, they rock like nobody’s business.

I have a couple of their records, but I haven’t listened to their whole catalog.  Nevertheless, each song instantly felt familiar and fantastic.

I was standing in front of Dafydd and I marveled at how he used the entire neck of the bass–sometimes playing melodies on the highest notes–and effects to really modify his sound.  I loved the way “Y Bluen Eira” started with crazy sounds and drums and was mumbled/sung in Welsh and then jumped into a ripping bass line while Ritzy played seemingly disconnected guitar lines.

The band blasted through a few songs from throughout their albums.  Ritzy looked really intense as she sang.  So much so that it came as a bit of a surprise when she  talked to us and was so genial and funny.

I was also really blown away by Matt James Thomas.  His drumming was intense.  Whether he was doing unusual beats or the intense snare pounding on “I Don’t Want to See You Like This” his volume control was outstanding.  Sometimes it sounded as if he was going to knock the stage down.  Of, and he had a giant gong, too.  Someone shouted “more gong please” and he promised to play it a few more times that night.  (This led to some very funny banter about gongs and how Ritzy wanted one to take out her frustrations on it.  Somehow this turned into a visual of Ritzy being strapped to the gong with Thomas suggesting throwing knives at her.  And thus their synth pop alter ego Gongs and Knives was born.

Ostensibly, they were touring their new album Into the Blue, although as they pointed out it came out and they couldn’t tour it.  So the first song they played from it was a bonus song that they added to the deluxe version of the record.  And for a tacked on bonus track, it was pretty awesome–it could easily have been a main track.

I have been listening to Into the Blue a lot since I got the vinyl and I really like it a lot.  It’s more mellow with a great quiet guitar lick and a delicate chorus.

But then they went back to rocking out with the older “Cradle” fitting perfectly alongside the new “Sevier”–with it howling guitars and pounding drums.

They slowed things down with a beautiful version of “Silent Treatment.”  Dafydd played an acoustic guitar while Ritzy sang and Thomas ended the song with a sprinkling of chimes.

Once the show had moved on a ways Ritzy started talking a lot.  She chided us for being too quiet between songs (it’s been three years since we’ve been playing, we need some good heckling).  She told a sweet story about her sausage dog who was with granny and getting spoiled. She told us a bit about the meaning of some of the songs, like “Chimes” which had special meaning to her as she imagined her grandfather talking to her when she was a little girl.  He sang a song about Chickadees and then noted that they don’t have them in Wales, so why was he singing about them?  Despite the sweetness, the song was a full-on rager.  I love the way the drums started and stopped in different styles.

I couldn’t believe that “The Leopard and the Lung” was the last song of the main set and yet when I looked at the time, they had been playing for 70 or so minutes.  Some of their songs are quite long and they often seemed to stretch them out with Ritzy standing in the middle of the stage while the guys followed her lead in terms of speed and duration.

They left for a pretty lengthy encore break, but when they returned they were decked out in Phillies gear.  Ritzy laughed saying she really doesn’t know anything about baseball.  But she was happy for Philadelphia since they hadn’t been in the finals since, what the 1800s?  She said that Wales had gotten into the World Cup for the first time in forever.  But she didn’t care about soccer either.  Ritzy had on a Phillies helmet which she had to take off because it was way too big.  Dafydd had on a giant foam fist which looked like it would hold a beer?  he gave it to Thomas and told him to smash the gong with it like the Hulk.  Which he proceeded to do–and fall off his drum stool.

Ritzy told us that “Gotta Feed My Dog” was essentially a kiss off–Sorry can’t talk to you I’ve gotta feed my dog.  The song has a slow opening with a whispered vocal but after the verse the song exploded–much bigger than the recorded version would have you expect.  It was awesome–as was Ritzy’s cool and weird guitar solo.

They ended with “Whirring,” a song that is on their original EP and was rerecorded for their first LP.  It’s super catchy.  On the record it’s got an extended outro that pushes the song to nearly 7 minutes and that’s how long they jammed the end for.  They had a blast rocking out the end–getting faster and faster.  When it seemed like they were playing as fast as they possible could, Thomas dropped one of his drumsticks and proceeded to play this remarkably fast drum pattern with one hand while pretending to yawn.

It ended in a colossal sound with Thomas once more smashing his gong.

What a great great show.  I certainly will try to see them again.  I only wish they had spoken in Welsh for me–I should have asked her to.

  1. The Greatest Light Is the Greatest Shade
  2. I Don’t Want to See You Like This
  3. Y Bluen Eira
  4. Ostrich
  5. CSTS (Come See the Show) (bonus on ⇔)
  6. Into the Blue
  7. Cradle
  8. Sevier
  9. Silent Treatment ϖ
  10. Chimes
  11. The Leopard and the Lung ϖ
  12. Gotta Feed My Dog
  13. Whirring

⇔ Into the Blue (2021)
∇ AARTH (2018)
ϖ Wolf’s Law (2013)
ℜ The Big Roar (2011)
♠ A Balloon Called Moaning (2008)




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[ATTENDED: October 27, 2022] Cuffed Up [rescheduled from December 16, 2021]

I’d only heard of Cuffed Up because they were scheduled to open for The Joy Formidable last year.  I listened to some of their music and really liked it so I was glad they were still opening  year later.

Cuffed Up had a great dual vocal set up between Sapphire Jewell and Ralph Torrefranca.  Earlier this month, however, Sapphire left the band.  She was replaced by Christina Apostolopoulos (which I didn’t realize until after the show, having never seen what the band looked like before).  The rhythm section is Vic Ordonez on bass and and Joe Liptock on drums.  The band is from L.A. but Liptock is from Philly and he was proudly wearing his Phillies T-shirt since the team was entering the World Series the next day.

The band came out and I was immediately impressed.   The guitar interplay between Ralph and Christina was great (it’s hard to believe she’s new to the band).  She played some great lead parts and I really enjoyed watching some of the chords she was making.

On my favorite song, “Canaries,” she mostly scratched her pick along the low string (and occasionally played the high chime of the strings above the top of the fretboard) while the rest of the band rocked out. (more…)

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[POSTPONED: December 16, 2021] The Joy Formidable / Cuffed Up [moved to October 27, 2022]

indexThings were looking up, shows were back, we had a vaccine.  And then shitty people refused to get the vaccine and it mutated and now we’re back where we were a year ago with shows getting postponed.

I was really looking forward to this show.  It would have been a great show to end the year on (I would have gone to this one if they had been in town).

The Joy Formidable are from Wales.  The trio Ritzy Bryan, Rhydian Dafydd and Matt Thomas play diverse sounds, but tend towards guitar based rock in various formats).  They even sing in Welsh sometimes.  Their newest album into the blue brings back some of the noisier sounds that the band used on early albums and explored their way away from for a time.

Cuffed Up is an L.A. based band who is getting a lot of buzz.  They play rocking songs with a great dual vocal set up between Sapphire Jewell and Ralph Torrefranca.  I was glad to have heard of them when this tour was announced and I look forward to experiencing them live.

I’m really looking forward to when this is rescheduled.

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