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GURNETT: Rochester's Joywave leads talented Ballroom bill

On Wednesday, March 7th, the Town Ballroom was host to a smattering of very talented Rochester bands (and one from Buffalo). Joywave led the bill, bringing their hit-making combination of indie rock and electro pop out for the final night of their tour.

The Humble Braggers performed first. Unfortunately, a GPS glitch led to me missing most of their performance. I was only able to catch their last three songs, but it looked like a lively set. Those who were there from the start had nothing but glowing things to say. I recommend checking them out on Spotify, and I look forward to getting a chance to seeing a full set of their 80’s influenced rock soon.

KOPPS was up next. Bassist Kyle O’Hara, guitarist Travis Johansen and drummer Gesture took the stage first, looking like henchmen in an 80’s sci-fi movie in leather-strapped getups and gold sneakers. Next, vocalist Patricia Patrón exploded onto the stage like a molotov cocktail taped to a stick of TNT. KOPPS’s music iselectro-poppy with latin rhythms and some fun, nasty heavy metal riffs. They fall somewhere between No Doubt and Evanescence; pop, but with a dark edge to it. Their set was heavy on synthesizers and drums, with the bass and guitar parts a little low in the mix. KOPPS also got the crowd excited with choreography, every in-sync step perfectly coordinated and full of genuine enjoyment. Patrón is a juggernaut on stage. 

Then Sasha Sloan came on and, quite frankly, bummed everyone out. Her performance had its merits, but KOPPS got the crowd so excited, it felt anticlimactic when Sloan came on stage to announce what she herself called “sad songs.” The crowd reacted by not paying much attention to her. She has a beautiful voice, but she’s about as energizing as a bottle of Ambien. It feels like the kind of bland of pop you’d find on a soundtrack for a Fifty Shades movie. Combine that with a quiet sound than the other sets that night, and she just couldn’t do anything to attract the crowd’s attention. Maybe on another night, on another bill, this set would have worked, but it didn’t feel like this was the place for it.

The anticipation for Joywave was palpable. This was the last show on their winter tour, and the Rochester-based band had plenty of people come in from our neighbor to the East. Six pillars formed a semicircle on the stage, each with a monitor on top that flashed colors and messages throughout the set. 

Joywave played an exciting set of accessible, polished eletro-rock. They came out with dynamic bombast, playing the first song with their dark silhouettes outlined against the monitors behind them. Vocalist Daniel Armbruster’s relaxing tone reminds me of Phoenix’s Thomas Mars, with a mix of Thom Yorke’s howl. Every member of the band was talented and enthusiastic, with a special shoutout to keyboardist Benjamin Bailey, whose backing vocals, keyboard work and ridiculous dancing laid a foundation that the rest of the band was happy to keep in step with. The band performed its hits “It’s a Trip,” “Destruction” and “Doubt,” among others.

It was a great night of electro-rock at The Town Ballroom. It was also a lively showcase of the Rochester music scene, which clearly has big things to come.

Ryan Gurnett has a B.S. in Music Industry from The College of St Rose. He has worked as a studio engineer, live sound engineer, producer and sound editor and has been a musician for 25 years. He is currently the bassist for The Lady, or the Tiger?. Email him at SirWilliamIdol@gmail.com or find him on Twitter @SirWilliamIdol.

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