Inconsistency across openers did not diminish Joywave’s energy at Gasa Gasa show


Photos Courtesy of Caroline Carothers

KOPPS and Sasha Sloan opened for Joywave at Gasa Gasa last Sunday. The sounds and energy varied from set to set, though main act Joywave definitely impressed.

On a quiet Sunday night, indie rock band Joywave was anything but. The Rochester, NY, quintet raised the roof at Gasa Gasa, delivering a dynamic, entirely unforgettable set to a sold-out crowd.

Show opener KOPPS, however, was… different. On paper, the band is an ostentatiously out-of-the-box, highly creative electro-pop group devoted to producing sultry, irreverent dance tunes. Sounds fun, right? Well, sort of. What KOPPS lacked in memorable hooks and earworm melodies, it more than made up for in its unique stage presence and performance style.

Each song KOPPS performed was accompanied with an intricately choreographed synchronized dance number including its lead singer, guitarist, and bassist. Though KOPPS’ overall sound was likely a little too singular for some audience members’ tastes, the band’s quirky, often sensual moves were no doubt engaging nonetheless.

That said, KOPPS’ setlist did have a few standouts: recent single “Baby I’m Dead Inside” and unreleased song “Virtual Reality” had attendees grooving and dancing along.

The night’s second performer was Sasha Sloan, an LA-based singer-songwriter recognized predominantly for her featured vocals on several popular electronic tracks. Although Sloan’s own discography is admittedly short, with only five songs on her Spotify artist page, for example, her music was the perfect segue between KOPPS and Joywave.

Perhaps the most accurate way to sum up Sloan’s music is with one word – sad. Like, really sad. Sloan prefaced several of her songs with stories of breakups, heartbreak and failed attempts to fit in. Instead of simply depressing the audience, however, Sloan’s lyrical genuineness and frequent interactions with the audience only endeared her further.

Songs like “Normal” and “Ready Yet” perfectly set the mood of Sloan’s set. Featuring raw and vulnerable lyrics hidden within criminally catchy choruses, these songs managed to appeal both to the audience’s emotions and musical sensibilities. Closing with the piano-driven “Fall,” Sloan delivered an extremely memorable performance.

Following two very different opening acts, Joywave itself finally took the stage. Kicking off its set with the rollercoaster hype of “Content,” the band skyrocketed the audience’s excitement from 0 to 100 and never faltered.

Joywave is the sum of its parts, and of those parts, none are as charismatic or dynamic as singer Dan Armbruster and drummer Paul Brenner. Armbruster sauntered back and forth across the stage self-assuredly, exuding both chill vibes and a highly infectious level of energy as he belted out powerhouse choruses.

Brenner, on the other hand, was an unstoppable hype machine. Never once was the drum set still, save for when he shattered a drum stick during the first chorus of “Content.” Arms whirling with calculated precision at lightspeed, and hair a perpetual cloud of dyed-purple angst, Brenner’s drumming was both the band’s backbone and heartbeat.

Though virtually all the songs Joywave performed could qualify as live standouts, the real crowd pleasers consisted both of big hits like “Somebody New” and “Destruction” and lesser known jams such as “Doubt” and “Traveling at the Speed of Light.” The latter was slow-burning yet ultimately explosive, a striking combination of Armbruster’s crooning vocals and Brenner’s fiery insanity.

From Joywave’s irresistible energy to Sasha Sloan’s down-tempo soul and KOPPS’ danceable quirkiness, Sunday night’s show offered something for everyone.

Leave a Comment