Livestream • Whisky A Go-Go
West Hollywood, CA
Players: Nick Reese, vocals; Blake Allard, guitar; Greg Braccio, bass; Robert Sodaro, drums
Material: Whisper it, but doesn’t it feel like classic rock is on the rise again? When Michigan Zeppelin-philes Greta Van Fleet appeared on Saturday Night Live, it really seemed to hammer home the fact that bluesy hard rock was at least a little bit hip again. That can only be good for bands such as Orange County’s Joyous Wolf, who would likely balk at the suggestion that they care about such things but, in reality, know that it’s good if more people are listening. This set is taking place at a near-empty Whisky on what is probably a deserted Sunset Strip but the songs, notably those from the recent Mother Rebel EP, don’t suffer at all. It’s straightforward, no frills, high-energy hard rock and that is wonderfully refreshing right now.
Musicianship: With a band like this, so much of their value is derived from the musicianship. It’s not pop or punk––the individual musicians simply need to be on point, and the blend as a unit is key. They pull it off effortlessly. Braccio and Sodaro are a formidable rhythm section––one online viewer correctly comments that you can set your watch by them. There’s just the one guitarist, yet Allard holds the whole thing together while also pulling out some flamboyant and welcome solos. Reese has a voice that is occasionally reminiscent of Chris Cornell and even Perry Farrell––powerful and absolutely emotive.
Performance: The lack of a crowd inevitably dampens things a little. There’s just no getting around it. When Reese asks “How are you guys doing tonight?” and is greeted with silence, it still feels weird. But to the immense credit of the guys on stage, they do their best to minimize the impact and just get on with their job of rocking out and blasting out quality tunes. The people at the Whisky do a great job with the lights, so it feels like a genuine Whisky gig. Ultimately, it’s as good as we could wish for.
Summary: Joyous Wolf are a thrill––an exciting and relatively original rock band that seems to be gathering momentum at the most challenging of times. Pre-pandemic, they went out on tours with Slash and Deep Purple, and they seem to have been paying attention. Hopefully there’ll be a full length album available soon, before the world opens up for them again. Pay attention.