Review – Mt. Joy channeled the golden age of classic rock to the Mission Ballroom

It is rare that an indie rock band deviates from the formula that makes the success of their radio hits. Even during live performances, many indie bands stay true to their recordings, taking little risks and remaining complacent in their original material. Of course, not all indie rock bands fall into this category. The genre is vast and wonderfully diverse, as Mt. Joy proved with his show at Mission Ballroom last night. Their recorded material might not be very psychedelic, but their performance certainly was.

The Mission Ballroom was the perfect location for Mt. Joy. There were neither too many people nor too many voids, and the acoustics were perfect for an audience of singers. The catchy tunes and playful lyrics of Mt. Joy represent a rare innocence begging to be sung out loud. Their music is made for young people in their twenties who are still looking for their way in the world, amused by the unknown. So it makes sense that the crowd consists mostly of twenty-a few people escaping the stress of their work week by injecting musical adventure into their Tuesday night. The collective voice of the audience echoed with each new song, creating a special bond between friends, strangers and musicians.

Filmed by Jason Stilgbouer

“Kids get high in the basement sometimes” were the opening lines of the performance as the group played through the fan-favorite “Sheep” and absorbed the energy of the crowd, who seemed to know every word. From the start it was obvious that Mt. Joy was thrilled to be back on stage and sharing his music with a live audience. The feeling was mutual – the crowd did not hesitate to participate, singing, dancing and cheering at every opportunity.

As the band moved on to the second song of the night, “Strangers,” it became clear that this performance was more than just a replica of recorded material. Connected by a psychedelic passage echoing reverberated guitar and soft piano, the group went from one independent hymn to another. Throughout the night, each member of the group would have their moment to shine, and “Strangers” was definitely Jackie Miclau’s moment. The back half of the song showcased Miclau’s impressive piano skills with an intimidating solo, never straying too far from the source material but always managing to inject new and exciting energy into the track.

Songs like “Astrovan” and “Jenny Jenkins” were more fun than ever, but the most exciting moments were created by incredibly talented Mt. Joy guitarist Sam Cooper. Cooper has managed to create a truly unique style unmatched by any guitarist in the alternative-indie scene. It is often loud and distorted, but also calm and melodic when necessary. Throughout the night, a whirlwind of effects drowned the audience in a psychedelic atmosphere reminiscent of the iconic psychedelic era of classic rock.

Filmed by Jason Stilgbouer

The highlight of the night – aside from their most popular song “Silver Linings”, which always thrills the crowd – was an impressive mix of their song “Julia” and “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” by Rolling Stone. Admittedly, these two songs don’t seem to match perfectly on paper, but the band managed to combine the best parts of each song with perfectly designed transitions that created a seamless listening experience.

Throughout it all, singer Matt Quinn has proven his singing abilities are worth more than the records he releases. This does not mean that his vocals are bad on records, far from it. The vocal performance on “Julia” is just as impressive on the radio as it is on stage. However, Quinn’s willingness to experiment and really let his voice guide him, even though the performance turned out to be more exciting than one might expect. Overall, Mt. Joy presented an incredibly smooth experience that challenged the dominant perspective of their music.


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