Joyce Manor, The Hotelier, Crying
by Codie Porter
Portland’s Hawthorne Theater was blessed enough to host one of the best tour packages of the year on Friday, October 7, 2016. With Joyce Manor, The Hotelier, and Crying, the night was sure to stay alive from start to finish.
Crying kicked off the evening in a calm, subtle fashion. The 8-bit electronic power pop trio graced Portland with their lovely tunes and awkward personalities for a solid half hour. Between Elaiza Santos’ soft vocals, Ryan Galloway’s unexpected moments of “shredding”, as well as Nick Corbo’s killer drum tone, they were a pleasant opener for what was to be an intensely emotional evening.
As an extra, they had a backtrack play over the speakers to create a more atmospheric vibe to their already fun, upbeat sound with lyrics branching near bipolarity. Their set came to a close quickly and as their name indicates, the following two bands would surely make an immense amount of people in the room do just that.
“…the goodness fades and we begin there.” What began as a battle cry to a newly reinvented The Hotelier, slowly molded into a mantra. Thus beginning their set, Sam Frederick (drums) kicked into “Goodness Pt. 1” with sheer ferocity behind his drum kit, as Christian Holden (vocals, bass) began to cry out about his newfound happiness and pure goodness. Leading into the first single, “Piano Player”.
No such band has quite the vocal/choral arrangement like The Hotelier possesses in a single song. During the chorus, Holden and Chris Hoffman (guitar, vocals) with beauty in their voices, sang “Sustain” in unison, and in that moment, the room felt transported.
As “Piano Player” comes to a halt, they step back and play one of the subtle interludes on Goodness to transition into what they already knew would be one of the most deafening parts of their set.
Smoothly transitioning into fan favorite, “Your Deep Rest” was an incredibly clever touch. The room erupted and everyone began moving more than ever. The crowd sang along to the heartbroken tone in Holden’s voice for the duration of the song. “Two Deliverances” followed a hilariously minuscule banter by Holden regarding accidentally forgetting someone on their guest list. As they powered through the song, they calmed down yet again, and played the final interlude into the final act of The Hotelier.
Continuing to play songs from Goodness and Soft Animal. But the three songs that followed culminated their entire set into an overwhelming amount of self-discovery and importance. The Hotelier began playing “Sun” and it was as radiant as the title entails. The simmering guitar tone and the vulnerability in Holden’s voice working toward the centerfold of the song. A four minute instrumental laced in between to calm things down, yet add a tremendous amount of depth to this already luminescent performance. Instrumentals began to build, thus leading into the intensely, subtle end of “Sun”.
Holden began to quiet down the audience for what was to come. Right as he sang the first syllable of “An Introduction To The Album”. Winding and weaving through this emotionally claustrophobic song with way too many words to count, the crowd sang back every single word with pure confidence and no fear. As it came to an end, Holden announced they had one more song. In perfect tone, Holden began “Dendron” like it was the final song he was ever going to sing. As before, everyone sang with Holden and caressed his words with purity and cherished every single thing he uttered in the song. Until imperfectly, he held the final note for what seemed like an eternity. As his voice went out, Hoffman peacefully played the final chords to conclude ethereally.
I always say that The Hotelier is the most important band in our scene today and their live performance continually exemplifies that.
Joyce Manor hadn’t even walked out on stage yet and the energy in the space was already exuberantly through the roof. They walked out and the crowd got even louder. Once the first note of “Constant Nothing” was struck, the movement in the room never stopped. As many know, Barry Johnson (vocals, guitars) has been pretty outspoken about his dislike for stage diving, but once someone acted on it and Johnson didn’t stop the set, the school of fish followed. Whilst swirling through their entire catalog, the vitality in the room never slowed down.
The show also served as an album release show for Cody, which made the occasion that much more intimate. Joyce Manor definitely didn’t stray from playing any new songs. They wound up playing nearly the whole record, despite it only being out for twelve hours. To no surprise, many fans had every single song from the new record down. Around the midpoint of their set, an audience member crowd surfing bumped into Johnson’s microphone, thus causing him to ask the room to be less disruptive while crowd surfing for the remainder of their set. Respectfully, the room heeded his response.
As their set was nearing the end, the vehemence never disappeared. The connection that Joyce Manor has with their peers is unparalleled and can easily be displayed at their shows. The crowd continually became even more boisterous during “Five Beer Plan”, which they closed out the set with prior to their encore. Voices intertwined with one another, finishing each phrase until the song came to a close, and Joyce Manor walked off stage. As expected, the accommodation demanded an encore and got exactly that.
Smiles enlivened as Joyce Manor began playing “Christmas Card”. As they played on, the space continued to shout everything back at them. The song came to a close and the entire occupancy knew what was to come. The first tone of fan favorite, “Constant Headache”, was enough for everyone to understand this was it. With zero hesitation, everyone only got even more uproarious. Bellowing every lyric until reaching the infamous bridge, the room never quit on being overzealous. The high octane set came to a close and everyone had the right sense of gratification from Joyce Manor’s extraordinary presence. If there’s one thing anyone learned from Joyce Manor’s live performance, the passion never vanishes.
The tour has only just begun and they still have a few weeks left. Catch Joyce Manor, The Hotelier, and Crying at your nearest city.
Codie Porter: Twitter