Joyce Manor Bring Loads of Heart and Heaviness to Soma

Joyce Manor

Torrance-based rock band Joyce Manor performed a rousing hour-long set at Soma during their only Southern California stop on this tour complete with tracks from all four of their albums.

The songs, which boasted punk influences accompanied by singer Barry Johnson’s low voice a-la Joy Division (but with more screaming), had the entire crowd moving throughout the set, so much so that Johnson quickly noticed.

“This is one of the best shows we’ve ever played,” he said early into the seven-year-old group’s 21-song set. “I couldn’t ask for a better crowd. We’re only about six songs into the set and I’ve already said a lot of mushy shit. From now on, I have a cold exterior.”

Opening up with “Beach Community” from its latest effort “Cody,” Joyce Manor exemplified it set itself apart from peer bands in the pop punk scene. Despite seemingly having a mostly younger, early 20s crowd at the San Diego gig, Joyce Manor’s sound harkened back to rougher punk influences, like Jawbreaker and Toys That Kill, inspiring never-ending mosh pits and crowd surfing that could compete with the crowds at NOFX and Rancid shows.

At one point, during “Chumped,” the band instructed the crowd to form a large circle pit. About 50 people jumped in during the minute-and-a-half song, sparking attention from a security guard who stood in the middle of the pit, at first, to keep attendees safe. Eventually, though, the guard pulled out his phone to film the chaos around him in amazement.

Even after Johnson announced Joyce Manor was about to “kill the vibe a bit” with a slower track, “Over Before It Began,” that didn’t sway the crowd from moving and jumping to the music.

And, despite the success Joyce Manor has earned over the years, including its 2011 self-titled effort being named Punknews’ Album of the Year, Johnson and the other members, Chase Knobbe (guitar), Pat Ware (drums) and Matt Ebert (bass), interacted with the crowd, showing that sizing up from smaller venues, like San Diego’s defunct Ché Cafe, to playing larger festivals like the recent Music Tastes Good in Long Beach, has had no effects on them.

After playing the sing-along “Heart Tattoo,” a fan asked Johnson if a heart was one of the dozens of tattoos that adorned his body.

“I don’t have a heart tattoo,” he said, before beginning to refer to other songs in a joking manner. “I wasn’t in the army. I don’t have a heated swimming pool. You can write songs about things that aren’t true to you.”

Joyce Manor ended its set by playing “Catalina Fight Song,” which had the audience begging for more before being swept over by Waaves.

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