We can’t get enough of the emerging Welsh trio the Joy Formidable. They’ve played just a few shows in the States, starting off the year opening for Passion Pit, then returning for a smattering of dates in the Spring and Fall, but each gig was a reminder that this was a band worth following. Before they headed back to the U.K. to gear up for the release of their debut album, The Big Roar, in 2011, the group stopped by SPIN’s NYC office for a three-song acoustic set. Watch below!
As a plugged-in act, their sound is massive, with Ritzy Bryan belting lyrics with urgency atop her chunky, fuzz-drenched guitar, Rhydian Dafydd churning out overdriven bass notes, and drummer Matt Thomas an oft-shirtless, long-haired beast behind the drum kit.
But unplugged, the trio — who were featured in SPIN earlier this year — offered a stunning turn, with the spotlight turning to Bryan’s gorgeous voice, gently accompanied by Dafydd’s pitch-perfect backing harmonies and acoustic guitar. Meanwhile, Thomas got us in the holiday spirit, adding texture to his hand-drumming with a few shakes of the sleigh bells he taped to his toes.
They performed their shape-shifting new single, “I Don’t Want to See You Like This,” and the driving “Austere,” which will both appear on The Big Roar. (“Austere” is also on their EP, A Balloon Called Moaning.) But the big surprise was a cover of Passion Pit’s “Moth’s Wings,” a tribute to their recent tourmates.
Watch the videos below, and tell us what you think in the comments section. The Big Roar arrives March 15 in the U.S., and A Balloon Called Moaning is available now.
VIDEO BY MATT JACOBY / AUDIO BY TOM BEAUJOUR