Last night, Joyce Manor returned to Pittsburgh, four months after playing Altar Bar in support of Modern Baseball on The Holy Ghost Tour. The feverish response the Torrance, Calif.-based band got at last night's show was the same as it was back in late June, if not more intense.
From set opener "Heart Tattoo," fans were into it, and almost immediately started moshing and jumping up and down while Joyce Manor ripped through the song. As the set continued, the band developed a rhythm of speeding through its mostly less-than-two-minute songs, then stopping abruptly. The band was a victim of pitch, constantly tuning and re-tuning after every two or three songs. It felt like speeding down a highway at 80 miles an hour, only to be slowed to a crawl by construction every five miles. But don't misread that description of the band's set: It was a great performance, with minor stoppages throughout its 20 song, hour-long show.
The crowd remained enamored through the entire evening.
Opener The Hotelier had the crowd so invested in its songs, singing, sometimes screaming, the words back to vocalist/bassist Christian Holden, then going almost immediately silent between songs. The infatuation the crowd had for Joyce Manor was similar: audience members knew all the lyrics, and sang along.
Joyce Manor had some, but not much, banter between songs, which created a somewhat awkward feeling, at least for the audience. Bassist Matt Ebert thanked the fans for supporting the band and coming to Joyce Manor's first headlining show in Pittsburgh. Singer/guitarist Barry Johnson admitted he has been sick for what seemed like the last six months, which explained a scaled back interaction with the crowd. Before "Beach Community," the singer gave a shout out to edhoculi (the crazy good Pittsburgh band named after the jacked NFL referee), and any awkwardness or questions of sincerity were quelled after that.
"Leather Jacket" was the set closer. It seemed the crowd didn't know crowd-surfing existed until that song, which launched a continuous flow of individuals not old enough to rent a car getting lifted onto the stage. Crowd-surfers then jumped off the structure like Superman — arms extended and body straightened — or like the late Randy Savage jumping off the top rope in a WWF ring, with great height and form.
Joyce Manor left for a brief moment, returning for a two-song encore which included "Christmas Card" and the band's most popular thrasher "Constant Headache," off the 2011 debut LP. During that final song, hundreds of voices screamed in unison. Johnson and the crowd sang together to end the night, in what seemed to be the crowd's most passionate state. The singer, along with the choir of punks, belted out the song's most vulgar and spirited verse, "But I just laid there in protest / Entirely fucked / It's such a stubborn reminder / One perfect night's not enough."