If you needed to find a place on Monday night to scream your heart out and dance like an absolute maniac, then you probably happened to find yourself at the Joyce Manor concert with special guests Mannequin Pussy and AJJ at the Taft Ballroom. Without a doubt it was a show filled with catharsis and angst, but incredible amounts of fun as well. Each band had their own spin of the punk variety, and it seemed like the dynamic with every set.
Mannequin Pussy was the first band to take the stage, however they commanded their set like they were headliners. The four-piece outfit from Philadelphia is backed by two female members, one being the lead vocalist/guitarist, while the other was the drummer. Without a doubt, you immediately got this feeling of female fetale within their set. Lead vocalist, Marise Dabice would seductively sing and sway in her scandalous nightgown, seconds later, she would break out into a complete frenzy on the turn of a dime. Mannequin Pussy is thrash-punk at its finest, but with its heavy reverb influences, the band has a bit of a shoegaze feel to them as well. Their fans showed up in numbers, screaming song requests and emotional compliments in between songs, and after their fantastic set, it is certain that they picked up plenty of more listeners.
The next band to take the stage was AJJ, formerly known as Andrew Jackson Jihad. If you have never heard of this band before, and you may or may not need a good punch-out session in your room to remove all the anger and stress in your life, this is the band for you. Lead vocalist and guitarist, Sean Bonnette belted out witty and even sometimes satirical lyrics that dealt with the themes of religion, social anxiety, and many other problems that has stuck with you since high school. AJJ was no doubt pop punk, but they also had a lot of folk in their sound, thanks to Sean Bonnette’s catchy and jangly acoustic guitar. Granted, not as angsty, but they have many synonymous qualities to The Dismemberment Plan, and Ramshackle Glory alike.
With roughly fifteen minutes in between sets, it was hardly enough time to catch your breath. When Joyce Manor took to the stage, they gathered their instruments, frontman Barry Johnson gave a bit of a smirk to the crowd, then immediately smashed into their first song, “Catalina Fight Song.” This is the band’s shortest song, clocking in at about a minute and ten seconds, but by no means is it their least important. Despite the abrupt intro, the crowd was not caught off their guard, and immediately belted out the lyrics with the band. From there, Joyce covered much of their discography throughout the set. Most of their songs are under two minutes in length, so they can power through most of their albums with ease. They played many songs of their new LP, Cody including “Fake I.D” and “This Song Is A Mess But So Am I.” However, to much of the crowd’s surprise and praise, they were playing songs from their early demo tapes too.
It was fascinating to see the progress in sound Joyce Manor has made throughout the years. They had a brash and a very rough sound that was definitely on the more “punk” side of pop punk. With each album they have put out since, Joyce Manor are starting to embrace the more “pop” side of the genre, especially with their new release of Cody. It is not to say that there is a pop punk revival happening in the music world right now. The scene has been quite prevalent since its founding in the late 1990s. Joyce Manor, nonetheless has become the flagbearers of pop punk because of their ability to mesh the aspects of pop and punk together. They are one of the few bands out there that scream in your face, but still charm you in undeniable ways as you mosh through the pit, and that was certainly understood from the manic fans at Taft Ballroom.