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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Joyce Manor Plays at Royale

On Sunday, September 20, 2015, punk band Joyce Manor played a show with openers Cheap Girls and Jason Anderson at Royale in Boston’s Theatre District. Royale is first and foremost a nightclub but acts as an event hall for musical acts as well.
Joyce Manor is a band from Torrance, California that formed in 2008, consisting of lead vocalist and guitarist Barry Johnson, guitarist Chase Knobbe, drummer Jeff Enzor, and bassist and back-up vocalist Matt Ebert. It is a band whose driven rhythms are influenced by earlier punk bands such as Jawbreaker and Viet Cong, but whose melodiousness is more in line with the current pop-punk movement.
While they are a punk band, their second and third albums, respectively, “Of All Things I Will Soon Grow Tired” and “Never Hungover Again,” contain synthesizer in the same vein of tone as 80’s bands’ The Cure and Joy Division, as opposed to modern acts Avicii or Zed. In their second album, there is a punk cover of The Buggles’ “Video Killed the Radio Star.”
On their official website, hosted by Tumblr, the band gives insight into their origin: “Joyce Manor was conceived in the back of a car in the Disneyland parking lot—the kind of beginning California dreams are really made of… They [originally] formed a power violence band where everyone would have Johnny Thunders-style glam-names… like ‘Joyce Manor’ named after an apartment complex Barry walked past every day.”  Readers can view the full self-description at joyce-manor.com/about. 
The first opening act was Jason Anderson and the second was Cheap Girls. As a trained musician and not having heard any of the openers’ music before, I thought the two opening acts were solid in their performance. Jason Anderson plays acoustic music, while Cheap Girls is a rock band that does not find itself out of place with Joyce Manor.
Last year, when Joyce Manor came to Boston, there was no gate or security guards barring the crowd from climbing up on stage and stage diving. It would be their last tour like that, as around September that year, Barry from Joyce Manor had to address the fact that many larger men were stage diving on the unaware crowd and often landing on girls who couldn’t support their weight. This reportedly caused injuries and hospitalizations.
The band received a lot of flak online for taking the stance that stage diving is no longer acceptable because of this. This year, they have taken the precautions of putting that barrier up with security guards, even in as small a venue as the Royale. Thus, only a handful of people crowd surfed. Last year, there was probably at least three people crowd surfing simultaneously to every song.
I also noticed that while crowds are usually all white at punk shows, such was not the case for this one. Sunday’s show brought in a plurality of young Asian men and women who were just as in love with the band and their music as anyone else.
Perhaps it is because of some of the themes that Joyce Manor tends to have in its songs. With lyrics such as, “Oh I do feel awful on the way to school/ Can you picture my reaction to the word up on the wall?/ Is there really something wrong with me?,” they seem to speak against prejudice. Joyce Manor also assumes themes of frustration, loneliness, sexuality, and suicide all within their first and seminal self-titled album.
Joyce Manor had the crowd singing every single lyric to their hearts’ content as most of the crowd was moved, both figuratively and literally, being pushed back and forth and side to side like waves in the ocean. It was a tight mix of sweaty shoulders and beer-stained soles.
Playing a sprinkling of songs from each album in no particular order, lead singer Barry stopped between songs to address his distaste for Panera Bread, saying that it is ridiculous that for a side option, you get a stale piece of bread. Others in the crowd assented and agreed with him. It should be noted that this side option is free and contains more carbohydrates than the other option of a bag of potato chips. 
On average, a Joyce Manor song is less than two minutes long, so their set feels short because of this. The audience clamored for more when Joyce Manor put down their instruments and left the stage.
“One more song!” was the chant in unison. Others shouted out “Catalina Fight Song!,” calling for the one major song that they hadn’t yet touched that night. Steam rose as the crowd cooled off, but not yet ready to leave. The band came back out and fulfilled their request.
Outside the doors to the club, small groups of friends were hanging out and talking loudly. One group of guys sang a Joyce Manor song completely a capella. After so many minutes, the security guards asked everyone to leave the area. It was a good night and an excellent performance.