ACL Live Shot: The Joy Formidable
Front dynamo Rhiannon Bryan, nascent rock goddess
By Melanie Haupt, 10:42AM, Sun. Oct. 6
Before the chill set in on Saturday evening, Welsh trio the Joy Formidable made sure to extract what sweat remained with its scorching collection of darkly gorgeous indie rock.
Taking the stage in a prim black dress with a lacy collar, singer and guitarist Rhiannon Bryan led bassist Rhydian Dafydd and drummer Matthew Thomas, setting the tone with opener “This Ladder Is Ours” off this year’s Wolf’s Law. While the set-list drew primarily from that sophomore effort, a few tracks from 2011’s The Big Roar, including “Austere” and “Cradle,” crept in, with Bryan’s expressive face and muscular guitar work helping to illustrate the narratives of each expertly rendered song.
Bryan’s stage banter was almost as entertaining as the music. From describing the band’s point of origin in North Wales (“Where it isn’t as fucking sweaty as it is here”) to engaging with kids in the audience (“It’s fucking great when your mum and dad take you to a music festival at the beginning of your life!”) to commenting on the current U.S. government shutdown before her introduction to “Maw Maw Song” (“I hope you’re able to come up with a solution that is fair and compassionate and not fucking greedy”), the tiny blonde cemented her status as a nascent rock goddess-cum-foulmouthed Kewpie doll.
Before closing the set with “Whirring,” Bryan reported that, after devoting the past year to touring – this ACL stint being the trio’s third visit to Austin in six months – the band would disappear for a while to finish its third album. We’ll be waiting.
For more ACL Fest coverage, see austinchronicle.com/acl. For photo galleries from the fest, see austinchronicle.com/photos.