Joy Subtraction at the hi-dive, 8/4/12

Categories: Concert Reviews

Tom Murphy
Joy Subtraction at Hi-Dive


See Also:
- Joy Subtraction? Its members just enjoy screwing with Joy Division.

"This is the first song on our new album," Joy Subtraction's Abe Brennan announced last at the hi-dive, goofing on Cheap Trick after the first couple of songs of the set. Then the band hurtled into "Kill the Blue Dogs." The band's cutting guitar, propulsive drums and the accented flow of low end made each song seem fiery and unpredictable yet accessible.

Tom Murphy
Joy Subtraction at Hi-Dive
Playing by putting his entire upper body to the task, Brian Polk created with Dave Lamothe an avalanche of rhythm off which Brennan could launch searing guitar leads and caustic lyrics that burn to the core of today's political and social ills.

Conviction? It would be difficult to find a band with more of it. Near the beginning of the set, the band performed a new song written by Polk. "He wrote everything," someone, possibly Lamothe, joked. Supposedly there were mistakes but it hardly mattered because it was one of the best songs of the show with Lamothe providing bass lines that enveloped you and Brennan and Polk sang together like they were in Mission of Burma.

One salient trait of the songs Joy Subtraction performed, mostly from its new album The Essential Joy Subtraction, of course, was the urgent menace that ran through the material. Like these guys are fully aware of and channeling the undercurrent of desperation, despair and outrage that is not even under the surface of the collective American consciousness these days. Though it was obvious the trio was performing with the fire in their bellies, there was also a clear sense of humor informing their unrelenting critique both in words and music to create a sonic purging of the anomy that plagues us.

The performance of Joy Subtractions cover of Minutemen's "This Ain't No Picnic" showed a band capable of mastering the challenging musicianship of that song and band in general. They made it their own. At the end, Brennan told us we would get an encore, "Whether you want it or not." He kept his word but everyone definitely wanted that encore.

Tom Murphy
Shining Wires at Hi-Dive
The show started off with Shining Wires. It looked like a couple of guys that used to be in Only Thunder. Musically it sounded like it drew inspiration from late '90s melodic hardcore and emo like Christie Front Drive and Hot Water Music. But without any of the aggression, which worked in its favor. At one point, the guitarist engaged in a section of sculpted feedback in a way that made it musical and not just for texture -- which is something you rarely see from anyone. The songs seemed to be about every day disappointments that feel like they're crushing your spirit but that in writing the song and even hearing it, it gets easier to lift yourself up from the grinding wheel of life's little setbacks.

Tom Murphy
Accordion Crimes at Hi-Dive
Accordion Crimes was in high form and the trio even played a new song or two. Bryon Parker's incendiary, jagged guitar work coupled with his vocal delivery alternately calm-but-outraged-teenage-litany and emotionally eruptive were perfect for his words castigating social and personal ills with a rare and unexpected poetic clarity.

Review continues on the next page.

Location Info



7 S. Broadway, Denver, CO

Category: Music

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