Last night's Joyce Manor show was arguably the perfect format for a punk show. A couple hundred kids were jam-packed into Yucca Tap Room to sing along to the California punkers' sweaty, 40-minute set, which was just shy of 20 songs. The stage banter was kept to a minimum and there was no stage-dive rant to be heard.
It's still odd to see Yucca Tap Room filled with an all ages crowd, but the show would have had a completely different dynamic without it. The metal barricade allowed about two rows of people next to the bar to stand comfortably, opening the rest of the floor up to the all ages crowd. The bulk of the crowd appeared to be in their teens and had a massive amount of energy. From the opening hooks of "Heart Tattoo" to the exhausting conclusion of "Five Beer Plan," the audience never slowed down.
If this was a 21-and-over show, it would not have nearly been as fun. Don't get me wrong, it was nice to sip a beer and watch the chaos from a distance, but it was great to watch a Tempe crowd get wild for once. The singing never stopped, it just rose to deafening levels for songs like "Leather Jacket," "Catalina Fight Song," and "Bride of Usher."
And then there was "Constant Headache." It's better to show than tell, as far as the audience's reaction is concerned-
Joyce Manor have been under fire lately for calling out stage divers. On one hand, high-energy punk shows at venues as intimate as Yucca Tap Room will inevitably have a stage diver or two, but getting kicked in the head by one of these folks is not pleasant. The band has received plenty of backlash from last weeks incidents, however, Joyce Manor's fanbase is predominantly young, and the stage was mostly surrounded by women, so frontman Barry Johnson's rants were justified after seeing the young crowd.
There may not have been any stage divers, but there were plenty of crowd surfers, and most of the gals in the front row looked pretty uncomfortable as moshing fans slammed into them. In spite of that, the audience seemed quite happy. The only complaint across the board would have been the heat, but what can you expect from a sold out show?
Some may complain about the short set. Yes, the main set was only 35 minutes long, but the band didn't say more than 10 words and kept the onslaught of fast paced songs going, and the bulk of said conversation was "we have two songs left."
The end of the show was somewhat awkward, as there was a momentary silence for the "encore," which entailed the band standing around for a bit, while the crowd caught its breath. Joyce Manor closed out with "Five Beer Plan," then ended the show without saying a word. A few fans started trickling out the audience, and the sound guy seemed equally puzzled, since the house music didn't come on for another minute or two.
I, like many of last night's fans, also considered going to the Gaslight Anthem/Against Me! show up the road at Marquee Theatre. My main decision to pick Joyce Manor dealt with Never Hungover Again being a top contender for punk album of the year, making Get Hurt pale by comparison. I didn't question my decision once.
Critic's Notebook: Last Night: Joyce Manor at Yucca Tap Room. Personal Bias: I've had Never Hungover Again in heavy rotation since it was released. The crowd: Averaged out to mostly 16-year-old girls. Overheard in the crowd: "I want to hear a Fugazi-esque rant."
What I remember from the setlist: Heart tattoo Derailed Catalina fight song The jerk Beach community Constant nothing 21st dead rats Constant headache Bride of usher In army now Schley Famous friend Falling in love again Leather jacket
"Encore" Five beer plan
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