There was much screaming to be heard at Baltimore’s Ottobar Sunday night, most of which was paired with fist pumps and head bangs while in recitation to heart-wrenching punk songs.
One in particular could be heard above all others halfway through the set. Rooted in political animosity, a fan yelled from the pit a confident declaration for change: “Barry Johnson 2016.”
This simple statement defines the tone that overwhelmed the grungy venue as Torrance, California, pop-punk group Joyce Manor rattled the walls with crunching distortion, raw vocals and heart-on-your-sleeve lyrics and reeled in the support of their dedicated fans.
Frontman Barry Johnson led the riot, evoking screams of admiration from his steadfast following the minute his black Vans graced the small stage.
Purchase, New York, chiptune pop-rock band Crying and indie-rock group The Hotelier hailing from Worcester, Massachusetts, prepared the audience for Joyce Manor, both providing a tuneful emotional escape, the first with Game Boy-induced novelty and the latter with admirably aggressive sentiment.
Johnson seamlessly extended the vehemence for Joyce Manor’s set, kicking off “Heart Tattoo” with an incredible amount of charismatic angst. His anxiously awaiting fans took no time in turning the pit into a war zone, waging mosh on their neighbors and closest companions all for the sake of music.
Joyce Manor played a well-balanced set stemming from their beginning studio albums—Collection, Joyce Manor and Never Hungover Again—as well as their latest production, Cody, released Oct.7. All of which were well reciprocated by their audience: the upbeat—and as Johnson described “stupid”—single “Fake I.D.” evoked carefree serenade while the bassline build up for “Falling in Love Again” created an intimate moment heavy in empathetic heartbreak.
By the Ramones-esque, fast-paced track “Constant Nothing,” fans could no longer contain their emotional catharsis, causing some to rebel against the venue’s crowd surfing prohibition, riding above heads in hopes of reaching their on-stage idols as sacrifice.
As the set progressed, a crowd member jokingly yelled out a request for The Front Bottoms’ “Twin Sized Mattress,” causing Johnson to pause mid-tuning, smirk and say oh-so nonchalantly: “Ha. Very funny. We know the bands you all like” and effortlessly transition into “Orange Julius,” the first track off of 2013’s self-titled album.
Then an ear-ringing silence laid itself across the pit as the group left the stage, the dimness of the venue was slowly illuminated, eyes were reluctantly torn away and hands were apprehensively run through mops of sweaty hair.
The passion and emotion exuded as every chord, note and melody gave life to this otherwise mundane Monday-eve. It evoked a sense of longing—almost heartbreak—when the music was concluded, the kind that welcomes a feeling of numbness when days later, exploding headphones are still delivering the straining refrains to eardrums.
Featured Photo Credit: Joyce Manor performs at the Ottobar (Gabe Fernandez/Bloc Photographer)
Jordan Stovka is a sophomore journalism major and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.