CONCERT REVIEW – She Wants Revenge, The Joy Formidable, The Dig
October 25th 2016 – Brooklyn Bowl Las Vegas
Bringing together three distinctly different bands for one night, a small crowd in Las Vegas was treated to an eclectic blend of rock and roll that showcased three bands comfortable in their own skin.
New York City’s The Dig took the stage to a sparse audience but quickly drew people in closer with delicate instrumentation and gentle melodies. Early comparisons to The Strokes can no longer be applied to this evolving group, though a hint of New York City’s darkest alleys still blur the edges of their sound. The reverb, occasionally pierced by bright synth notes, descended from the stage like a slow moving fog and created a sonic haze that lingered for a few minutes after the band casually walked off the stage.
Any lingering haze was quickly blown away when the thundering Joy Formidable erupted with a string of their most popular tunes to open a ferocious set. From the first time I saw them in 2012, it has been fascinating to see how they’ve honed their soft/loud dynamic into a melodic din that meshes the fuzzy havoc of The Jesus & Mary Chain with the unbridled energy of The E Street Band. An endless touring calendar that has checked off every major festival around the world has taught them to play for the listener a mile from the stage and has made them stronger musicians as a result. When the acoustic guitar came out for the aching “Silent Treatment”, it felt like the eye of a hurricane passing over the crowd as singer Ritzy Bryan’s voice soared across the dance floor. The band’s sense of humor was never lost under the tidal waves of distortion with drummer Matt Thomas constantly mugging for the crowd while doing a fine John Bonham impression with some of the heaviest drumming I’ve seen in years. Highlighting the set was “Last Thing On My Mind” – the first single from the new album Hitch and a song that shows the band’s ability to pull back on the noise and allow the songwriting to carry the mood.
To be honest, I had planned on leaving after The Joy Formidable but seeing some trusted friends arrive eager for She Wants Revenge led me to linger longer at the bar. Having never seen the band live, I didn’t even realize the guys casually tuning the instruments were also the band and the set started without them even walking off the stage. It felt almost unsettling to see a headliner start without adhering to the long standing tradition of the house lights going off suddenly and a few moments of dark anticipation as mysterious silhouettes walk towards the audience. In retrospect, this casualness towards the rock and roll cliches permeated the band’s entire set. Fleshed out with a second guitarist and a drummer, She Wants Revenge’s Justin Warfield and Adam Bravin wasted little time with the niceties and focused on delivering moody songs pulled from all three of their albums. Striking the same chords as Joy Division and Interpol, the band’s dark set never lost sight of the dance floor with every song giving the audience a reason to move. Dimly-lit throughout the set, She Wants Revenge seemed determined to keep the mood even as hits such as “These Things” and “Tear You Apart” brought a feverish response from the audience. She Wants Revenge left me wondering why I never explored their labyrinth of electronic post-punk beyond those two singles and provided an unexpected highlight to the evening’s stellar line-up.
– Jason Lent