lonelyforest.jpg
Julia Mullen Gordon
The Lonely Forest
The Lonely Forest, The Joy Formidable

The Crocodile

Tuesday, April 12

It was "arena ready" night at the Croc

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The Lonely Forest and The Joy Formidable Bring Arena Rock to the Croc

lonelyforest.jpg
Julia Mullen Gordon
The Lonely Forest
The Lonely Forest, The Joy Formidable

The Crocodile

Tuesday, April 12

It was "arena ready" night at the Croc yesterday, as two bands who know the ins and outs of rock hooks and stagecraft played a sold-out show in a venue about 1/50th the size of your average stadium. First up were Anacortes stalwarts The Lonely Forest, playing songs off their recently released major-label debut, Arrows. The Forest usually plays all-ages venues when they're in town (they did an in-store earlier in the day for their underage fans, showing once again their commitment to the all-ages scene), but the many gray-haired folks in the audience shows a new draw. With frontman John Van Deusen's songs managing to combine catchiness and substance, it's understandable they would appeal to kids and grown-ups alike.

The Lonely Forest have been steadily building momentum over the past few years, but if it's been a while since you've seen them, be prepared for a surprise. The songs are the same (more on that later), but the delivery comes with an easy confidence and, yes, even some swagger. Bassist Eric Sturgeon and guitarist Tony Ruland paced the stage, executing well-timed jumps at particularly rockin' moments. And Van Deusen, always an extremely likable frontman, seemed unconcerned by technical problems, maintaining a smile and bantering with the crowd throughout the set. "We're just happy to be playing with someone louder than us," he joked.

With an upcoming tour opening for Death Cab for Cutie, it's certain the chances to see them at small venues are numbered. They've been hard at work touring and recording the same songs for the past few years, and their fans are surely thrilled by their success so far. They closed with "We Sing in Time," the song they've played last every time I've seen them over the years, and one that made it onto their last two albums. And even though I've heard it a million times, I found myself thinking "Man, that song never gets old." But for longtime fans, the most exciting time is yet to come, with the chance to see what comes after the Death Cab tour--hopefully, some new material.

I stepped out between sets, and when I returned, the crowd had changed. Gone were the boomers, replaced with a bunch of dudes in glasses and plaid (no beards--these seemed like Eastsiders) screaming "We love you, Ritzy!" in reference to the frontwoman of Welsh rockers The Joy Formidable. The JF have been getting some mainstream radio play, and the audience ate their set with a spoon, screaming and fist-pumping the whole time. But with songs as epic as "Austere" and an engaging, fast-moving stage presence, it's easy to see why. With her platinum pageboy, red dress, and black tights, Ritzy Bryan looked like a living Mondrian painting as she strutted around the stage, banging cymbals and making use of her prodigious pedal board. The set built and built to an enormous wall-of-sound jam at the end of "Whirring"--to which all I can say is, I wish that instead of wasting my money on seeing My Bloody Valentine a few years back, I had bought a ticket to The Joy Formidable instead.

Random notebook dump: The Joy Formidable don't even like My Bloody Valentine, John Van Deusen confessed afterward.

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