TVD Live: The Joy Formidable with A
Place to Bury Strangers at the 9:30 Club, 3/26

A love letter to Oliver Ackermann.

Dear Oliver,

Remember when you played that amazing show to a packed 9:30 Club in DC last Monday? I remember it as if it were yesterday. It was actually the day before yesterday. Wouldn’t you agree that The Joy Formidable played an amazing set worthy of awe and admiration?  I have to say your band, A Place to Bury Strangers, easily could have headlined that show, but I might be a bit biased. I think you will agree with me that Brooklyn’s Exitmusic were the perfect opening act, with Aleksa Palladino’s bone-chilling vocals offering any music fanatic a soundtrack for the dreams they’d have that night.

I know we only met briefly after your set, but I feel like it was kismet, the way I interrupted the conversation you were having with your parents to tell you how much I loved your set. You looked awkwardly in my eyes for those eternal two seconds, and I blushed and looked away because it was the most intense experience of my life.

During our brief conversation, I may have been too starstruck to tell you the name I’ve chosen for our firstborn son (Luxx, in honor of the first show APTBS ever played), and I had to rush off to grab the bulk of The Joy Formidable’s set, since I was reviewing it.  Thanks for introducing me to your parents, though. I know that you and I have only known each other for a little while, but I’m sure I made a sweet impression.  Your dad kinda looks like ZZ Top.

You were with me as The Joy Formidable lit up the stage with undeniable energy; they are known for their bombast and that little Welsh vixen Ritzy Bryan was laying it on thick for that packed room. You stood behind me for a few minutes, and I know you were too mesmerized by Ritzy’s stage presence to approach me, though you obviously wanted to.

I was a bit stuck on Rhydian Dafydd’s tireless hands strumming “Cradle” as the psychedelic lighthouse  on the stage changed colors.  Besides, you wouldn’t have been able to hear my gushing about how much I love your band over TJF’s flawless perfomance of “Whirring.”  Did you not love how the whole set was sea-themed? I’m super-into anything nautical, but you already know this because you can read my mind.

Anyway, please forgive me as as I gush a bit more about The Joy Formidable; there will be plenty of gushing about your band later in this letter. I recall a moment when the sonic build during “Austere” was so loud and menacing, I thought Michael Gira and the rest of The Swans (one of my fave bands) had joined them on stage. But TJF take that menacing wall of noise and make it accessible.  That kind of intensity is why they are filling rooms these days.

There were clever intermissions in between songs like when “What Would You Do With a Drunken Sailor” played as if it were coming out of a music box after “The Last Drop.” I liked how clueless the crowd looked during a recording of a prose poem that was read aloud after “Austere” finished.  I thought it lent appropriate pause to a breathless whirlwind of swirling, pleasurable indie rock.  Oh, and weren’t you totally stoked when they played “Endtapes”off of the Twilight: Breaking Dawn soundtrack, for the first time ever on this tour? Those Twilight soundtracks are pretty decent—sadly, the books/movies are not.

Now honey, we get to your set, for which I had been counting down the minutes ever since the last time A Place to Bury Strangers played in Baltimore and I could not travel the distance to see you. Holy shit, if you could see yourself the way the audience does, all shrouded in fog and light like a phoenix up from the ashes, I’m pretty sure you’d fuck you.  Also, considering you look like a Valley Girls-era Nick Cage, I’m sure I need to get in line after the many other swooning ladies (and likely gents) in the crowd.

It’s like you knew I’d be there because you played all my favorite songs, including most of your new Onwards to the Wall EP.  Oh, and you guys even opened with “Onwards to the Wall.” My heart skipped when you followed with “Nothing Will Surprise Me” and thrust your guitar into the air during the furious assault of drums and pummeled me with fuzz and distortion.

APTBS have earned to right to be known as the “loudest band in New York” because, similarly to hearing My Bloody Valentine live, I could feel the noise pushing at me as if the devil were sitting on my chest.  I know this was your way of sending me signals telling me to meet you in the lobby after the show. You really didn’t need to play so hard to get by staying so far away from me on stage, hidden in the shadows, only appearing when the stage lighting dictated it appropriate to exhume you from the shadows. That’s a really cool Bauhaus trick ya got going there.

I just want you to know that my show notes in my newly cracked notebook are illegible because my hand was shaking, and I was jumping up and down a lot.  I don’t really need them because I spent all night in bed rehashing every single detail of the set, anyway.

Also, I won’t be mad if you made out with Aleksa Palladino when you were backstage.  She has the voice of an angel and that Mazzy Star quality about her.  I was shaking during her set; the emotional intensity she commits to each song is alarming.  I bought the EP a bit ago and have been listening to it non-stop, and I’m pretty excited that the full album will be released in May, appropriately on Secretly Canadian.

So, let’s make plans to get married when this tour is over. Ritzy can wear that red lacy number as my Maid of Honor. She can let us use that toy sheep someone threw on stage at her as a cake topper.  Aleksa will sing us down the aisle, and you can say “I do” with a Nick-Cage-in-an-action-flick accent.  And of course APTBS will be the wedding singers, playing Joy Division, The Smiths, and My Bloody Valentine covers. I can’t wait to slow dance with your dad to “She’s Got Legs.”

Much Love,
—Jennder

P.S. Also, don’t you just fucking adore these shots that Shantel took of the show? I say we send her an invite as well.

The Joy Formidable

A Place to Bury Strangers

Photos by Shantel Mitchell

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