Joyous Wolf has been climbing the ladder of success for the last few years. The quartet from Orange County, California scaled one more rung on Monday, September 13th. Embarking on their first headlining tour, they set sail from the friendly setting of Hollywood’s Viper Room. The show which featured opening sets by Moon Fever and tour mates Of Limbo was presented by 95.5 KLOS and included an introduction by on air personality Matt Pinfield.
The evening gets rolling with L.A. locals Moon Fever, This four piece led by vocalist Cody Jasper, donning a blue velvet sport, jacket revs up the attendees of the iconic club with a 30-minute set of original rockers. It’s unclear if the half-capacity crowd is familiar with the band or if they are winning them over. Either way, JB who looks almost like a referee in a black and white broad striped shirt, slaps out pounding bass grooves, and drummer Greg Garcia puts the kick in his drum. Guitarist Mitch Micoley adeptly works his fingers on the fretboard of his Les Paul, ostensibly evaporating their allotted time in a flash. If you have not seen them perform, which I had not, it is recommended.
The intermediate act is Of Limbo, another four piece outfit who will be accompanying the headliners on this set of shows. Of Limbo is fronted by a pair of brothers, one a lead guitarist, Luke Davies, the other a rhythm guitarist and vocalist Jake Davies. The band’s drummer Christopher Bristol, took ill right before the show and was aptly filled in for by Ian LeBlanc, who Jake mentioned learned their set list in one day. LeBlanc will be manning the drum throne for the upcoming tour dates as well. No strangers to the large stage, this group has toured with Blue Oyster Cult and Wolfmother. Unfortunately, the small Viper Room boards being confining as they are, probably hindered the performance of wild man bassist Rob Gravely. Gravely looks like a cross between Michael Anthony and Grizzly Adams as he struggles to pour out the energy of a rodeo bull inside a playpen. Of Limbo’s set culminates with a party rocker called L.G.F.U. which stands for let’s get fucked up. Forty minutes expires and the sweat drenched foursome make way for the headliners.
When the clock strikes 9:30 p.m., it’s time for the group which the now full viper’s den has been waiting. Matt Pinfield makes a brief introduction and Joyous Wolf tears into their latest single, Fearless, which has been climbing the charts for a few weeks. If everyone turned up to hear the songs off their debut EP Place In Time, they were probably disappointed, for a few minutes. That feeling most likely wasn’t long lived, as the boys from the former orchard lands were set on unveiling mostly tracks from their forthcoming album. In a recent interview with vocalist Nick Reese, he alluded to the fact that this new batch of songs would be different from the songs on the EP. Never having heard the majority of the songs played on the evening, the initial assessment is they may be a bit darker and edgier than the majority of their predecessors.
Joyous Wolf cranks out one rocking number after another. The new numbers are well received, mostly with tasty guitar riffs doled out by Blake Allard. The trademark pounding drums from Robert Sodaro are there. Greg Braccio’s bottom end groove is also present, when he wasn’t having some connectivity issues with his effects board. These were transient and did not hinder the performance however. As far as Reese’s chameleon-like vocal stylings, from the viewpoint right front and center of the stage, the vocal mix was quite frankly hard to discern. The lack of audible confirmation did not deter Reese’s performance. He is a non-stop crowd energizer, throwing his hands up and beseeched the audience to get involved. He even parts the audience on command and leaps off the stage and on to the floor and busts out some dance moves, much to the delight of the gallery. The fans are not left completely chagrined as they do play their breakout hit, Mother Rebel, and although not on the set list, as a quasi-encore, for which they hadn’t actually left the stage, but the set was supposed to be over, they gratify the people with their very competent cover of Mountain’s Mississippi Queen.
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