Joyce Manor played their s/t debut in full, covered Tigers Jaw at Central Park (pics, review, video)
Sometimes 10th anniversary shows are an admission that the artist is losing relevance or becoming a nostalgia act, but for Joyce Manor, it felt like the much-needed happy ending to a story that they've been writing since releasing their self-titled debut LP on January 11, 2011 via the small but reliable 6131 Records. It's not unusual for artists to play bigger venues for an album's 10th anniversary than the ones they played when the album was new, but for Joyce Manor, the change was one of the most drastic ones I've seen in recent memory. The tour supporting that album came to NYC for a show at the tiny, now-defunct Bushwick DIY venue Party Expo, and the 10th anniversary show happened in Central Park to a crowd of thousands.
To say the album had a slow rise would be an understatement. Even when Joyce Manor were supporting their 2012 sophomore album Of All Things I Will Soon Grow Tired they were still playing small venues; it wasn't until they signed to Epitaph and released their 2014 breakthrough album Never Hungover Again that Joyce Manor really started to catch on outside of niche DIY punk scenes, and for those who had been following them all along, the self-titled debut had already become a classic. Along with a few other likeminded bands, Joyce Manor's debut album helped set the tone for the wave of indie-punk that would dominate the 2010s, and that's still birthing vital new bands today. The album doesn't feel 10 years old, partially because we're still seeing its impact unfold, and it hasn't aged one bit. With 10 fat-trimmed, near-perfect songs that mostly clock in at under two minutes, it's an adrenaline rush every time you listen to it. It never drags, always leaves you wanting more.
You can count on Joyce Manor to play more than half of that album at any show, but still, revealing that they'd be playing it front to back allowed them to announce what was by far their biggest NYC show yet, at an iconic venue that holds over twice as many people as the last venue they played here. I thought maybe part of the reason they could play such a large place was due to having fellow emo revival vets Turnover and Tigers Jaw on the bill, but Tigers Jaw had to drop off when the show got rescheduled due to weather (Surf Curse replaced them), and it was clear from the moment Joyce Manor hit the stage that this was a Joyce Manor show. Turnover sounded great, and they had a lot of the crowd singing along to the songs from their emo/dream pop classic Peripheral Vision, but when Joyce Manor crashed into those first few chords of "Orange Julius," the packed crowd rushed the stage and I couldn't spot a single person around me who wasn't yelling every word. There wasn't a single point during the album performance that the crowd wasn't going nuts.
Again, most songs on this album are staples of Joyce Manor's shows anyway, but it was, of course, extra appealing to see them played in the order that's ingrained in your head from listening to the record, and Joyce Manor seemed extra enthusiastic to be playing them this way. They've always been a great live band, but the way they fired on all cylinders at this show was even better than I remember. Maybe the year and a half without live music had both the band and crowd letting out pent-up energy, but whatever the case, this was one of the most high-energy Joyce Manor shows I've seen. They also sounded even fuller than usual, thanks to PHONY (aka former Donovan Wolfington member Neil Berthier) joining them on acoustic guitar and backing vocals throughout the set.
After the self-titled's beloved closing track "Constant Headache" ended, they went right into "Heart Tattoo" from Never Hungover Again without missing a beat, and then proceeded to play another 11 songs from throughout their career. Seeing the self-titled in full was a very special treat, but the second half of the show reminded you that Joyce Manor are not a nostalgia act. The songs from later albums like Never Hungover Again, Cody, and Million Dollars to Kill Me went off just as hard as the songs from the debut.
Upon returning for an encore, Barry Johnson asked the crowd if anyone was bummed that Tigers Jaw had to drop off. After lots of cheers, he said he felt the same, and then Joyce Manor went into a cover of "I Saw Water" from Tigers Jaw's beloved 2008 self-titled LP. It was an awesome, faithful rendition, and not only did the crowd go nuts for it, you could tell that Barry and the rest of the band really put their hearts into it. After that, they played their classic shit-starter "Five Beer Plan" and left the stage for good at just around 9:30, with about a half hour left before curfew. As always, they left the crowd wanting more.
We missed openers Prince Daddy and the Hyena and Surf Curse, but pictures of Joyce Manor and Turnover by Amanda Hatfield continue below, along with video of the Tigers Jaw cover.
The show was one of the last in the Capital One City Parks Foundation SummerStage series, which continues tonight (10/1) with a free Yo La Tengo show and wraps up on Saturday (10/2) with Kenny Beats and friends.
Joyce Manor in Central Park - 9/30/21 Setlist
Call Out (Laundry)
21st Dead Rats
Ashtray Petting Zoo
Falling in Love Again
House Warning Party
Last You Heard of Me
Catalina Fight Song
I Saw Water (Tigers Jaw cover)
Five Beer Plan