Photo: Mark A. Cadiz
On one of the few warm days of early spring, I found myself sitting on a flat, forgotten tire behind the legendary Salt Lake all-ages venue, Kilby Court. I was enjoying a tall boy in anticipation of a show I had long been waiting to see. No Joy is a Canadian band on the Mexican Summer record label. They are known for blending shoegaze with Phil Spector-style girl pop, a bit of doom and a gorgeous sense of despair. The band took the stage creating a rising tide of paranoiac swells. Being nearly deaf in my left ear due to a crazy allergy issue which rapes me every spring, I was hoping the sonic, shrill blast would be just the thing I needed to finally pop my ear. As the wave of chaos broke, it gave way to subtle lead harmonies from both guitars. I quickly noticed that No Joy has the rare ability to fuse feedback with structure––throughout their set they would slip some feedback directly in the middle of a guitar riff without distracting from the phrasing of the song. The sound guy, Tate Law, did a great job of mixing the band, often coming right up to the speaker to critique the mix. I appreciated the attention to detail. With such ambient music, the mix can be as important as the musicianship itself. Shoegaze is often like sorting gold from mud, it takes a great deal of attention and luck or you get nothing but muck. The band was not afraid to let loose. The drummer was a beast as well. He could have easily just kept a beat under the wall of sound, but he one-upped it and really went off on his kit. Jasmine White-Glutz, the lead singer/guitarist, was constantly head banging all the way up ‘til the end, when the whole band went nuts and dropped to their knees heavily engaged in twisting knobs over a feedback freakout that sounded like the crashing of waves in an ocean in space. My ear never popped at the show, but I could definitely hear No Joy loud and clear. I’ll be keeping up with No Joy as they embark on a tour of the UK. Check out their latest release, Ghost Blonde, it really is haunting and it kicks ass as well.