Joyce Manor | Photo by Sydney Schaefer | sydneyschaeferphotos.com
Of All Things: Joyce Manor rip through first of two sold out shows at the Church
There’s nothing quite like a mid-fall gig at First Unitarian Church, except, of course, the fact that it felt increasingly more like a show in the middle of the dog days of summer with each step taken down to the basement on Friday night. After all, isn’t that the charm of it? Forfeiting sanity, personal space and healthy body temperature regulation just comes with the territory — and there was no better place than here to hold Joyce Manor’s back-to-back sold out Philly dates. Supported by New York up-and-comers Crying and alt heavy-hitters The Hotelier, the night was a showcase of powerful emotions, manifested in intricately diverse forms.
Joyce Manor’s fast, loud and brutally honest set began with “Heart Tattoo” from 2014’s Never Hungover Again. The beauty of a band that has an average song timestamp of two minutes and under is the ability to hear a discography-spanning 21 song set and yet somehow yearn for more at the end. The band’s tight song selection featured a solid mixture of most of their albums, notably excluded 2012’s Of All Things I Will Soon Grow Tired, which perhaps led the way for them to dive deep into their just released album Cody.
Playing more than half of the songs off the early-October release, Joyce Manor eagerly announced each new track, with many in the audience hearing the new material live for the first time. Cody standouts included the singles “Fake I.D.” and “Last You Heard of Me,” as well as “Reversing Machine” and the self-deprecating “Stairs.”
While the band has been able to play bigger stages in the past year — such as their headlining gig at Union Transfer last fall or their opening set for Modern Baseball at The Fillmore back in June — there’s a certain magic to the Church that the larger venues just can’t recreate. It allows the audience to experience the music up close and personal, no barricades, no bullshit.
The crowd’s collectiveness was impossible to ignore as the large entity ebbed and flowed with each song. The opening riffs to old staples like “Constant Nothing” and “Catalina Fight Song” saw an instant surge to the stage, while new material like “Eighteen” made for a pulled back yet still engaged audience that finally took a minute to catch their breath.
Dusting off old demo tracks like “Housewarming Party” and the intense “5 Beer Plan” called for total, unapologetic raging as frontman Barry Johnson’s screaming spiraled out beside speeding guitars.
That sort of visceral reaction was also unmistakably present during The Hotelier’s set. Starting softly with “An Introduction To The Album” from 2014’s Home, Like NoPlace Is There, the band gained momentum, charging through a raw set of stunning songs like “Your Deep Rest” and the nearly seven-minute, guitar-heavy “Sun” from the recently released LP Goodness.
Fresh off the release of their own new album as well, Crying performed several tracks from Beyond The Fleeting Gales, which debuted just last week. The band’s opening set infused a lighthearted, electro-pop energy to the evening, and to be honest, punchy solos just sound better on a bright, sparkling emerald green guitar.
With the glamorous feeling of shoes stuck to a beer-stained floor, a drenched t-shirt hanging off your back and ear drums ringing for the foreseeable future, there’s nothing quite like emerging from the Church basement to a cool rain that’s actually fitting for the season. Maybe we’re the lucky ones, able to take part in something that stirs up the same feeling (er, temperature) and carefree spirit of a summer night. If we’re even luckier, this won’t be the last we hear of Joyce Manor anytime soon.
Falling In Love Again
Catalina Fight Song
End of the Summer
This Song Is A Mess But So Am I
Last You Heard of Me
5 Beer Plan