By Joe DeBonis
Just like when listening to a Joyce Manor album, as soon as this show was finished, I was ready to hear it all over again, note for note if it had to be, it was so sweetly short. They must have played at least 15-20 tracks too, but as each one felt shorter than the last I ached for more as soon as they were done. Joyce Manor has produced what potentially is my album of the year and being able to see them perform live was truly something special.
They did a nice mixture of songs off of Never Hungover Again and their earlier stuff and I jumped and head banged my balding head to every ear splitting note. I had worn contacts thinking the crowd would be interested in moshing, but it turned out to be a good idea regardless when they weren’t as my face became slippery with sweat, a sure sign my glasses would have been flung into the crowd if they had been on my face. Each time I recognized a song I would start jumping and screaming and trying to throw my voice into the fray even though normally I could not sing along at the break neck pace that Barry Johnson goes at. Even just belting out the guitar riffs that I knew were coming was enough for me though and as the show went on I began to lose my voice from my endless screaming.
Now I know it seems like this show was some magical show from Wonderland. It was far from that. In fact, if this had been any other band performing I probably would have been more than furious once it was done. From the blown out speaker to the immobile crowd, I was battling all odds to have a good time. Towards the end of the show I could not hear a single word screamed into the mic by Barry Johnson and the garbled static that echoed from the blown speaker was more than distracting. On top of that, the crowd surrounding me seemed to have forgotten what to do at a punk show and I could practically taste the hatred for me from the people around me as I jumped up and down, screaming my lungs out as they all stood in perfect silence and stillness. There was this weird resentment for me because I was jumping around trying to have a good time and as much as I tried to avoid the stares I felt upset that no one else was as moved as the music as I was. Of course the friends I went with were into the show, but their presence was overshadowed by people who were not.
So on one hand, I was seeing what might possibly be my favorite band making music at the moment, but on the other, both the crowd and horrendous sound were starting to wear me down. Without hearing “Constant Headache” the night might have almost been a failure. When the opening notes started playing though, I quite nearly broke down in tears. What has become my most emotional anthem of my life was finally being played before me, live and in the flesh. I screamed the lyrics as loud as I physically could, making sure the haters around me knew how important Joyce Manor truly is to me. The feeling I got was so intense I felt the goose bumps crawling up my sweaty arms. Barry was singing a song he sang every night of the tour, and I am sure he had no idea the effect he has each time he does, but I can guarantee, at every show there is at least one person like me who has latched onto that song and made it so much more than what it must be to him. That song led me to this band and for that I will always love it. It also led me through some dark angsty times, better than any other song or band or album or any type of music, so of course, I will always love it even more because of that.
In the end, the show was fine. No, it was more than that. It was a good time. I got to finally say I have seen Joyce Manor live, they played mostly songs I knew, and I gave myself such bad whip lash from throwing my head around I was sore days afterward. I have a new found respect for the band as well. After seeing an artist only a week before throw a fit on stage when the sound wasn’t working for him, all Barry did was keep trying his best, screaming his ass off and not making excuses or getting mad. It takes a reasonable, rational and above all good person to not freak out when a venue utterly fails at their one duty. I was mad at the time, but looking back, I am so impressed with the way Joyce Manor handled everything that night. Whether I was able to mosh or not is beyond the point. I heard my anthem live and heard other songs that had grown to be almost as important to me and I should not complain about things I could not control. I still want to see them again, now more than ever, but I am thankful for the chance I did get, and for almost a week after, I was still finding myself with some Joyce Manor riff or lyric rifling through my head. When I have songs stuck in my head from a show 4 days later I know it was good. It just may have been a little to short to stick with me in my conscious mind, but my subconscious sure loved it. It was such a stubborn reminder one perfect nights not enough.