The lights reflected off every curl on his head while his delicate voice tugged at the heartstrings of all in attendance. Lovesick, sweet words filled D.C.’s 9:30 Club, evoking a feeling of catharsis for listeners.

The acoustics of Vance Joy’s instruments echoed throughout the venue March 25—the first of two sold out D.C. shows from his Fire and the Flood Tour— while the words of “Riptide,” “Georgia” and “Red Eye,” amongst others from his first studio album Dream Your Life Away, eloquently charmed the ears of eager fans.

The Australian singer-songwriter first entered the music scene with his debut single “Riptide” in 2014, and has since won over the hearts of his fans in an impressively short amount of time, undoubtedly with his humble demeanor, pleasant melodies, bittersweet lyrics and warming instrumentals.

Luke Ydstie, bassist and vocalist of Blind Pilot, opening for Vance Joy at 9:30 Club. (Cassie Osvatics/Bloc Reporter)
Luke Ydstie, bassist and vocalist of Blind Pilot, opening for Vance Joy at 9:30 Club. (Cassie Osvatics/Bloc Reporter)

The voices of 9:30’s attendees swelled as opening acts Jamie Lawson and Blind Pilot set the lovingly mellow tone for the evening, reaching their peak as the flashing signs depicting Vance Joy’s name shone brightly on the backdrop behind him as he entered the stage. Joy’s songs relate to his audience so seamlessly.

As many artists choose to do, Joy utilizes love as a common theme. However, his incredible charisma and ability to speak to his audience are far from mundane. Each and every one of his songs beautifully tells of the desire, the longing, simply the sublime qualities of love  we  experience, yet cannot find the words to describe.

It is this deep-rooted emotion and heart that pulled fans to see him. This deep-rooted emotion made the first show sell out in a record breaking eight minutes. This deep-rooted emotion made his passion and heart palpable in the venue that evening.

In a world that tends to focus on loss, depression, frustration and negativity, there is an increasingly imperative need for a light, a hope,  a new perspective. Joy’s music encourages listeners to seek these alternatives.

Love is never easy. Love is not simple. It can be met with rejection, opposition, stress, anxiety, longing and disappointment. That we know. That is what we are repeatedly told.

However, with the right words, with the right expression, the right attitude, it can be made beautiful. It can be polished. Above all, it can be worth it.

“So do you know what I mean? So do you know how I feel?” Joy sung to his audience from his 2013 single “Snaggletooth.” The answer is yes.

Whether it is loving a person’s snaggletooth, devotedly admiring from afar, having the willingness to fly across the world to be with a particular person, or easily losing our minds, love is spoken universally and Joy speaks the language fluidly.

In fact, we not only know what you mean or feel what you feel, but we do so wholeheartedly, empathetically.

This sensation of catharsis—the feeling of releasing strong emotions— is what a Vance Joy listener undergoes with each and every lyric. This is what keeps his fan base so strong. This is what demanded an encore from an already incredible set.

Before his finale of “Fire and the Flood”—the single released July 2015 and inspired the tour—Joy sang “My Kind of Man,” a song that tells listeners to “find a thing you love, find a thing you understand.”

If we courageously follow our passions, if we feed our souls like Joy has, despite the many hardships life often brings, all will fall into place. All will be well.

Featured Photo Credit: Australian singer/songwriter Vance Joy during his performance at 9:30 Club. Vance Joy kept the crowd smiling with his vibrant presence and humorous anecdotes between songs. (Cassie Osvatics/Bloc Reporter)

Jordan Stovka is a freshman journalism major and can be reached at

One response to “Review: Vance Joy Brings Songs of Bittersweet Love to 9:30”

  1. […] I’ve seen pop/alternative bands in the renowned venue, but I’ve also been in attendance for folk singer-songwriter performances, hip-hop rock mashups, Americana-inspired rock, Talking Heads cover bands and Halloween funk […]

Leave a Reply

Blog at

%d bloggers like this: