It was supposed to be a very nice and cool night in Garden Grove on the 1st day of June. Turns out The Joy Formidable were in town and they turned up the temps with a sizzling performance.
TJF was at the end of their West Coast run of their Into the Blue tour when they landed at the Garden Amp. Opening for the dynamic trio were The Paranoydz, and last minute add, Johnny Two Bags. As the sun set and gave way to the moon, Jonny Wickersham AKA Jonny Two Bags took the stage.
Wickersham is used to being onstage as a guitarist in Social Distortion, but that night he played a very nice acoustic set. Despite being an abbreviated set, it was stripped down, and with great vocals, he entertained all the early birds.
Up next was The Paranoydz. They call Los Angeles their home, so the band had fans in attendance… a lot of them. They are a punk / garage rock band and they were pumped to be playing. With pomp and circumstance as a backdrop, the inspirations coming from the Germs and the Go-Go’s was evident.
The band features Staz Lindes on bass and vocals, Lexi Funston on guitar and vocals, and there’s Laila Hashemi on keys and also on vocals. David Ruiz slammed the skins to a steady beat. Honestly. I wasn’t as familiar with them as I was with other bands from L.A., but now I am because they provide a solid and electric sound.
By now, the sun had set and as the stage was being prepared for TJF, I noticed a nice piece of artwork affixed to speakers. It looked as if it was some kind of drawing. After further look and some investigation, it was a drawing made by a fan that was given to Rizy, so, as she does, Bryan made a classy move and laid it out for all to see.
As the Welsh alternative rockers took to the stage, they immediately took command of the stage.
With fervor in her voice and a whiplash smile, front-woman Ritzy Bryan took no prisoners as she led the crowd into a sonic journey that rocked the venue.
Along with Bryan, TJF features bassist/vocalist Rhydian Dafydd and drummer Matthew James Thomas. They put out a pulsating AND mesmerizing signature sound that is uniquely recognizable. Sure, the band is from Wales, but close your eyes, and their music speaks a universal language that we can all relate to.
As they took the stage, they opened up strong with “Caught on a Breeze.” Immediately the crowd erupted to that beat and sharp guitar riffs only Bryan and Dafydd can lay down the way they do. They segued nicely into “Sevier,” “Ostrich,” and then “Into the Blue.”
What got a smirk out of everyone, including myself, was a comment Bryan made as they took a breath. You see, by then the sun was completely down, and with a light breeze there was a chill in the air. This did not go unnoticed by the casual observer; us Californians like our warm weather. Bryan commented on how it was such a beautiful night and talked briefly about weather back home or when they played … like in London. That made everyone laugh and I can only imagine what they have been through over the years, so it was a funny moment between songs.
With that, Bryan dug in, and the hit parade continued with “The Greatest Light is the Greatest Shade.” Just seconds into the next song the crowd expressed their love in cheer as the into to their radio hit, “Whirring” took full effect.
They followed-up with “CSTS,” then “Yn Rhydiau’r Afon.” As you would expect, another rise in decibel level for their uber hit, “Cradle.” Being Bryan is an avid animal lover, and pet owner herself, it was only appropriate TJF closed with “Gotta Feed My Dog,” and all of Garden Amp was on their feet.
The band was simply gold that night, but they weren’t done just yet. They gave the Garden Amp crowd a little more for sticking it out in that inclement weather (j/k).
The finale included “This Ladder is Ours,” and acoustic version of “I Don’t Want to See You Like This.” They bid farewell with “Left Too Soon.” It was a spectacular performance and those attending got their money’s worth.
TJF left the Garden Amp to do more shows, and if you can, check them out in London as they will be doing an orchestra-supported show in honor of their second album, “Wolf’s Law,” turning 10 years old.
This band is definitely a must see, and for all the fans that night… it was a very memorable night at the Garden Amp.