Concert Review: Joywave takes audience on a “trip”

By Janelle Harb, Editor-in-Chief


A crowd full of hipsters who you’d imagine having impeccable Instagram feeds filled the historic Town Ballroom on March 7 to see Rochester-born band Joywave. This show was part of Joywave’s “Thanks. Thanks For Coming” tour in support of their sophomore album, Content, that began on Feb. 10 in Las Vegas, NV.

Prior to the headliner were two bands also local to the Western New York area, Humble Braggers and KOPPS, as well as Los Angeles-based siren, Sasha Sloan.

Humble Braggers opened the show with a confident innocence as they played to an already adoring crowd. While the lyrics of songs such as “Am I Okay?,” harkened back to the days past of My Chemical Romance, the band’s overall sound reflected the crisp synth-pop that defined the ‘80s.

Although beginning as the brainchild of lead vocalist and guitarist, Tom Burtless, Humble Braggers now includes Brian Zells as the guitarist and bassist, as well as Matt Chavanne on the drums. Although humble by name, this band deserved the roaring applause and various “I love you’s” from the crowd throughout their set.

Following Humble Braggers, three men dressed in bondage-themed attire took to the stage, garnering some understandably confused glances from the crowd. Once the band began to play, lead singer of KOPPS, Patricia Patrón leapt onto the stage in a flurry of dance, passion, and red faux fur.

As Rochester natives, KOPPS joked that touring with Joywave was akin to a “weird high school reunion.” KOPPS consists of Patrón on vocals, Kyle O’Hara on bass, Andy York on drums, and ex-Joywave member, Travis Johansen on guitar. The band’s performance was unlike anything that has ever graced the Town Ballroom stage. Every song was complete with choreography ranging from small, synchronized bops to a full-on interpretive dance between Patrón, Johansen, and O’Hara, complete with high kicks in the air.


Patrón’s vocals, dance moves, and intensity with which she performed was similar to that of a red jumpsuit-donning Britney Spears, circa 2000, while the music surrounding her donned an electronic-rock edge that is comparable to that of The Killers, especially with songs such as “My Gold” and “Lose Control.”

KOPPS’ stage presence, music, and choreography absolutely captivated the audience. Even those unfamiliar with the band’s music were taken by the performance, and by the end of their set, every audience member’s head was bobbing and blood was pumping.

After KOPPS’ high energy performance, the concert changed tone drastically with the start of Sasha Sloan’s performance.

“Are you guys ready to get sad?,” Sloan joked as she adjusted her microphone. Although her music career began by way of lending her voice to tracks by EDM artists like Kygo and Odesza, and co-writing for the likes of Charli XCX and Camila Cabello, Sloan has begun forging her own way as a solo artist.

Sloan sang several sadcore ballads that can be described as a cross between Halsey and Lana Del Rey. Each of her songs reflected an honest portrayal of different events throughout her life, including those involving love lost, introversion, growing up, and mental illness.

Her newest single “Normal” illustrates Sloan at a party, actively avoiding the realities of her own life by pretending to be someone else and trying to “fit in,” as she laments in the chorus “Keep on playing that song that I don’t like / I just wanna feel normal for the night.”

In the midst of both KOPPS and Sasha Sloan’s performance, Daniel Armbruster, lead vocalist of Joywave, made a cameo appearance, much to the audience’s glee.

Following Sloan’s emotionally-charged set, the crowd was primed for the headlining act. Interestingly, the set for Joywave’s performance consisted of six computer monitors that appeared straight from the old “computer room” of your parent’s house in the late ‘90s on pedestals, framing the band. The monitors displayed graphics and videos going along in time to the beat of the music, like robotic backup dancers.

As aforementioned, Daniel Armbruster leads Joywave providing vocals, followed by Joseph Morinelli on guitar, Sean Donnelly on bass, Benjamin Bailey on the keyboards/synths, and Paul Brenner on drums.

Joywave began to receive national attention with the release of their 2014 EP How Do You Feel?, featuring singles “Tongues” (feat. KOPPS), and “Somebody New.” The band has played several notable festivals, including Coachella, Lollapalooza, and the Leeds Festival. Now, with the debut of their second full-length album, Content, Joywave has seen another success with single “It’s A Trip!” commanding the airwaves of alternative radio stations across the country.

The band has not only cultivated a diehard fanbase in their hometown of Rochester, but also a sense of community amongst fans across the entirety of Western New York. The indie-electronica band has pushed the limits of rock, carving their way as alternative giants.

Armbruster’s recognizable vocals soared across a near capacity crowd at the Town Ballroom. At times, Armbruster playfully pretended to conduct the crowd as they raved along to the electronic anthems. His signature deadpan stare was anything looked anything but impassive, as he fiercely matched the crowd’s energy.

Throughout the performance, Armbruster would pause to make a quip about the Western New York area, saying, “growing up you guys had all the cool concerts,” and talk about his love for the Sabres.

Each of the band members exuberantly interacted with the adoring crowd as they played songs from the entirety of their career. The members playfully interacted with one another as they strutted through their set, with Morinelli playfully taking a stab at playing the drums during “Little Lies You’re Told.”

During anthem “Traveling at the Speed of Light,” the historic disco ball at the Town Ballroom was lowered, reflecting a multi-colored spectrum across the audience, much to their excitement.

Another notable moment was when Joywave invited ex-member and current member of KOPPS, Travis Johansen, back on stage to play one of their first songs as a band “Golden State.” The band gave a shout-out to the fans that had seen them when they played shows at notorious Rochester bar The Bug Jar.

The band played with the energy that only the comfort of a hometown could provide. Having already won over the audience before even stepping on stage, the band clearly gave their all for the final performance of the tour.

Due to Buffalo being the last stop on Joywave’s tour, the band took the opportunity at the end of the show to thank their tour manager, lighting designer, and fellow tourmates. Looking forward, Joywave can be seen in support of Thirty Seconds to Mars on their upcoming tour across North America beginning June 6 in Toronto, Canada.

Overall, this show was a glimpse at the pride Western New Yorkers have for local bands and, in return, the passion these bands still have for the area and their hometown fans. Humble Braggers, KOPPS, Sasha Sloan, and Joywave each put on a unique show that brought the crowd to heightened levels of emotion and excitement, that will surely go unmatched for many years to come.

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