The Joy Formidable knocked the collective breath out of their audience with a pummeling, anthemic set from the start, with the band’s 2009 hit “Cradle” instantly clarifying the Welsh act’s tag as premiere power house trio. She might look delicate and coy, but bird-like singer/guitarist Ritzy Bryan’s trailblazing talent brought us back to the best of the alt-rock 90′s and de-tuned guitar memories of early Placebo and Sonic Youth. She’s a guitar menace on stage, and would give any rock god a run for his money.

After Bryan gave some thanks to the adoring collegiate fans in the house and chatted on scoring the city’s best dirty martinis, (with olives stuffed with cheese, no less), the band dove into new single, “I Don’t Want To See You Like This”, a licks-fueled breakup song that doesn’t let any notes of the sad sap blues get in the way. Perhaps the song’s freshness is key, but it was at this moment that you could fully sense the band’s enviable dynamic, with bassist Rhydian Dafydd, and drummer Matt Thomas totally locked in, keeping the intricate backbone of the song pulsing along with every whim of their female frontwoman, who clearly revels in her spotlight.

Songs like the slow-burning “Anemone” brought some space into the heavy, short set, yet then it all ended as if in a flash, with “Whirring” a hyper, feedback noise fest of fire, sweat and brimstone. A predictable finish perhaps, but daunting nonetheless.–Photos by Scott Irvine