The Big Roar." />

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Gapers Block published from April 22, 2003 to Jan. 1, 2016. The site will remain up in archive form. Please visit Third Coast Review, a new site by several GB alumni.
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Concert Fri Dec 16 2011

The Joy Formidable@Cabaret Metro 12/14/11

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It seemed once again impossible glancing at the Cabaret Metro stage that there could really only be tree band members on stage during The Joy Formidable's set. The Welsh trio play as strongly as a 12 piece could with as much vigor as any punk band even though their songs are more closer to the "pop/rock" genre. Make no mistake on this: every song they played sounded as catchy and strong as a single but it's not so often you hear a song so intensely engaging in composition played on the mainstream waves.

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Though all three band members seemed exuberant, it's still female lead singer and guitarist Ritzy Bryan who steals the show. She flails about the stage like a beautiful fish out of water and interacts with the bassist and drummer as if she's having the time of her life. Within her personality and facial expression, the constant element of surprise is quite evident.

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The Joy Formidable have certainly been garnering increasingly more fans as well from Schubas to Lincoln Hall to Lollapalooza 2011 to The Metro. The band referenced the rain at Lollapalooza, in fact, amidst swears and talk of chocolate martinis. For those who might be accent shy, it might not always have been clear what Ritzy Bryan was saying but one thing for certain is that she was not shy about interacting with the audience, letting fans touch her guitar and embrace her, as well.

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There was also a certain ambiance this time around with the stage decorations. The lamps, overly large telescope, globe, and Victrola spoke of a happy ship wreck for a sea captain who happened to love music. Or, perhaps it was a mismatch of sorts but a lovable one that spoke of seeking and exploration through the most vintage means possible.

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The Welsh three piece sounded even stronger on this most recent visit but without losing Ritzy Bryan's vocal softness, which must prove a precarious balance. Her voice could easily be gentle enough for some soft folky love ballads but she chooses to triumph a boundless sounding kick into her rock songs, especially when she manages to sync up the rhythm of her guitar playing with the drumming of Matt Thomas. What is most astounding is that Bryan acts as if all of this comes incredibly easy to her, which only increases the adoration that fans share. She is as elegant as she is striking as she sings the lyrics that prove easy to sing, nay shout, along with.

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Bryan was at her most intense whilst she banged the gong during "Buoy" as if it were a lover she had a personal vendetta against then dropped into a shoegazey vibe that threatened to take over the world that developed into "Whirring" Their 75 minute long set was like a glorious rampage that seduced the audience, especially with the band's mentioning of a second release follow up to 2011's The Big Roar.

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Peter Dysart / December 19, 2011 9:28 AM

Brilliant article and photos, Kirstie. This was easily one of the best shows of 2011 and very much the band to watch last year, this year and for many years to come. Ace!

Ellini (L-N-E) / December 22, 2011 12:10 AM

OMG! I was there im in one of your pics and my bofriend is in the bottom (very bottom) right corner of the last pic you posted! Its friggin sweet to see it :) We were talking to you and that sarcastic guy (HA HA) before the show started. You have an excellent eye. My dumpy disposable camera pics won't look nothin like these. So glad i found your blog

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Feature Thu Dec 31 2015

Our Final Transmission Days

By The Gapers Block Transmission Staff

Transmission staffers share their most cherished memories and moments while writing for Gapers Block.

Read this feature »


  Chicago Music Media

Alarm Magazine
Big Rock Candy Mountain
Boxx Magazine
Brooklyn Vegan Chicago
Can You See The Sunset From The Southside
Chicago Reader Music
Chicagoist Arts & Events
Chicago Music Guide
Chicago Singles Club
Country Music Chicago
Cream Team
Dark Jive
The Deli Chicago
Jim DeRogatis
Fake Shore Drive
Gowhere Hip Hop
The Hood Internet
Jaded in Chicago
Largehearted Boy
Little White Earbuds
Live Fix Blog
Live Music Blog
Loud Loop Press
Oh My Rockness
Pop 'stache
Pop Matters
Resident Advisor
Sound Opinions
Sun-Times Music Blog
Theft Liable to Prosecution
Tribune Music
UR Chicago
Victim Of Time
WFMU's Beware of the Blog
Windy City Rock


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The Mutiny
Old Town School of Folk Music
Park West
The Promontory
Red Line Tap
Reggie's Rock Club & Music Joint
The Riviera
Thalia Hall
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Symphony Center
Tonic Room
Uncommon Ground
The Vic
The Whistler

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  & Shops:

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Dave's Records
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Groove Distribution
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