The lights dimmed. The crowd seemed to take a collective pause. A moment of silence fell and was caught between them. A deep breath before applause and shouts shrouded in pure bliss.
On April 6th, Joywave took the stage at Elsewhere in Brooklyn, New York. The theatrics of an indie band could not go overlooked. Joywave loaded onto the stage costumed and ready for what would prove to be a carefree night. They broke down that wall with their fans by showing them that it was okay to be silly and free. It was okay to dress as car wash employees and run around a stage singing music that projected the feeling of being without concern.
Behind them, a stage set up that stood out stole the show. Someone had rigged a faux-car wash, moving and ‘cleaning’ the back end of a car which had headlights glowing and all. While that’s all fun and fresh, a cool stage doesn’t win fans over.
So, that was the challenge for Joywave. Their music, stage presence, and personalities had to overshadow the high bar that they set by creating such extravagance. Would they rise to the occasion?
The Rochester band noted to their crowd that this night in Brooklyn would be their last away show before returning to their hometown to finish up the tour. Joywave fans cheered. Joywave fans rejoiced. Joywave fans were ready to give it all they had on that night that they were able to spend with their favorite band.
And so they did.
It was clear immediately that the band valued fan connection. They fed off the energy of the crowd and delivered it ten-fold back. However, sometimes in admiring stage presence, today’s world forgets to think about the music for the sake of music itself. Joywave’s sound was different. It had an element that was missing from pop music today.
Joywave leaned into musical dissonance, proving they understood music at a way deeper level than many artists right now. It was like they were bringing this edge back to pop. An indie band at heart, it was clear they were eager to grow and develop their music. Their sound is held back by that chase of being different, but by leaning into pop and not letting the mainstream scare them, it could truly be a game-changer for the band.
They’ve tapped into a special genre that is starting to really breathe again. With the recent popularity of “Heat Waves” by Glass Animals, it’s clear that music fans are ready for the sort of pop band that is beyond a Hollywood manufactured boyband and instead an independent reflection of reality. Joywave gives us that. Portugal. the Man and Death Cab for Cutie are known for that sort of alt-pop, but Joywave could just be the band that brings us back to that mid-2000s pop band sound.
Joywave makes music that may not be radio ready, but could still take over the airwaves due to sheer demand. People are tired of the same copy and paste song. Joywave challenges that. Live, they perform with such control over their sound that fans fall into a trance.
Pop can mean many things. Joywave can help shape our understanding of it.