You should expect a lot of things when you come to a Joyce Manor show: crowd surfing, moshing, and sing-alongs. This was a Monday night, and I had never seen a bigger crowd show up for a weeknight in my life. This band means a lot to these kids. This band means a lot to me.
I crammed into my truck at 7 p.m.
I was running late to the show and the fanboy in me wanted to run into Joyce Manor, share pleasantries over some beer, and sign all the records I had in my backpack. At that particular moment, I came to the realization that I was about to be twenty-seven and should keep it cool.
I finally lucked out after what seemed like forever while trying to find parking. I was a block away and started walking en route to Wonder Ballroom. My first thought after picking my ticket up from will-call was to immediately grab ear plugs and beer. (Three bucks for a PBR?! Don’t mind me as I proceed to drink on a budget tonight!) My birthday was in two days, I was going to have a great time to myself, and I was about to listen to some sad-boy shit all night long.
I got to the drinking side for the first act, Dogbreth from Phoenix, Arizona, and at first, I was a bit skeptical. They had one of their friends on the mic, and the rest of the band opened up with the riff from Black Sabbath’s “Crazy Train”. As soon as that was over, the band immediately sprung into their own tracks, and I couldn’t have been happier. This band was refreshing, raw, honest, and melodic. I was hooked until the end of their set, and they were one of the best openers I’ve seen in a long time.
I didn’t hesitate to grab another beer after, and I figured I could smoke a cig or two before the next band. I made some new friends, and they joined me in downing another beer just as girlpool, a female acoustic two-piece from my hometown of Los Angeles, hit the stage. No drums….just an electric bass and guitar, and it was what I needed to hear. The girls struck my heart strings with their track “Chinatown”. “And if I told you I loved you, would you take it the wrong way?” echoed throughout the venue with everyone’s lips moving to the words. No one dared to talk but only give their full attention. My favorite single, “Emily” was given the same treatment. We all sang along softly while Harmony and Cleo cried to everything that was unrequited. These ladies fucking rocked.
Beer four is now in the works. My new friends and I headed out to the patio to catch a break, and I felt amazing. The first two bands hadn’t failed me, and I’ve seen Joyce Manor enough back home to know they don’t suck either. I hear them starting, so I chug the last of my PBR and drunkenly scramble to the front.
They covered a lot from their newest album Never Hungover Again including “Heart Tattoo” and “Falling in Love Again” (to which my friend Terence contributed synth for the track). Barry and the rest of the crew dug deeper into their older album with “Beach Community”, “Orange Julius”, and a surprise cover of “You Gave Your Love To Me Softly” by Weezer. By this time, their set had not even reached its peak.
You could barely hear Barry when “Leather Jacket” came on. “IN YOUR NEW LEATHER JACKET YOU’RE SOMEBODY ELSE!” shouted from the mouths of those in attendance, including this writer. Shortly after, I found myself getting lost in “Constant Headache”, a track with which I can personally say is still dear to my heart and tied with one too many personal anecdotes. You could feel everyone’s energy when we sang,
“You having sex in the morning/Your love was foreign to me/It made me think maybe human’s not such a bad thing to be/but I just lay there in protest entirely fucked/it’s such a stubborn reminder one perfect night’s not enough“.
After closing their set with “Schley”, they thanked us showing up. No one moved. We all shouted for an encore until they gave in and came back. Joyce Manor played us not one, but two great songs to end our night: “Catalina Fight Song” and “Five Beer Plan”, a song from their debut EP Constant Headache and one I thought I would never hear live. Everyone at this point had their heads up and shouted along as Matt played out the first couple chords on his bass. I’ve never felt so one with a crowd until this show and to think this was only a Monday.
Overjoyed and overwhelmed, I smoked my last cigarette outside. My new friend lost both of her earplugs during the set, and we all laughed about it. All fucks were not given. We said our goodbyes, and I headed home blasting “Constant Headache”, neglecting whatever hearing I had left in my car.
Call me a fanboy, call me whatever. I don’t give a fuck. Best Monday ever.