Turning onto Wharf St in Washington, DC on Saturday September 21 put you right in the center of two seemingly endless lines to get into The Anthem. The giant marquee sign in front of the venue announced the arrival of Bastille and Joywave. Excited fans were sitting in circles chatting about their favorite songs from the bands and singing along to the music pouring out of their phones.
At 7pm the doors opened and fans eagerly rushed inside. They were met with a bright glowing sign reading Joywave. You could see the band in the wings far before they walked out onto the stage, their matching neon yellow construction-esque shirts glowing in the shadows. While a good portion of the crowd was solely there for Bastille, there was still a large amount of die hard Joywave fans in the audience. The band opened up with “Like A Kennedy,” a slower song chosen to introduce those who had not heard of the band to them. Joywave moved effortlessly through their set of new songs and old, briefly stopping in the middle to introduce the crowd to the bands photographer. Lead singer Daniel Armbruster asked the crowd to chant “Joywave” when said photographer turned towards them while he made an announcement about new music. More well known songs such as “Tongues” and “It’s A Trip!” were saved for the end of the set and by the time the band ended with “Obsession,” nearly every person in the crowd was dancing along.
In the time between sets, the last of the fans trickled in packing the floor and filling every seat and available railing space on both balcony levels.
As The Anthem went dark, the screen on stage announced the arrival of Bastille and the beginning of their first act: “Still Avoiding Tomorrow.” The stage was flooded in red light as frontman Dan Smith took his place in a plastic chair on a platform next to a vintage style TV. The band went right into “Quarter Past Midnight,” the lead single of the band’s newest album. Smith didn’t stay by the TV for long, instead taking his place center stage on what was later revealed as a spinning platform. He danced there before launching himself off to maneuver his way around the stage while the giant screen behind him flashed bright colors like it was trying to play a broken VHS tape. This screen changed throughout the night, from lyrics during “Doom Days” to windows looking out on what looked like the world burning to a giant blood moon during “Two Evils”, in front of which Smith perched on a ladder. The first act ended with Smith attempting to maneuver his way through the crowd while singing “Flaws”. While he didn’t make it all the way through the crowd, it gave many fans an opportunity to be up close to the singer with some even being allowed to sing parts of the song for him.
The second act, “Those Nights,” was far more foreboding than the first. It began with Smith on a couch with a hood covering his face while he sang “Those Nights” on a rotating couch. The screen behind the band during this act was far less colorful than the previous one. The lack of color brought on that feeling of hopelessness that the band’s newest album “Doom Days” really captures.
The band’s finals act, “The Morning Doesn’t Reach Us,” opened with “Joy” while color came back to the set. This portion was filled with songs that got the crowd dancing and singing along at the top of their lungs such as “Good Grief” and “Of The Night.” It got the crowd feeling good again just in time for the band to play their breakout hit “Pompeii,” giving fans one last chance to dance and sing their hearts out, even drowning out Smith at points.
The Dooms Day Tour pt. 1 continues through the end of October and it's not one you want to miss. More info can be found on the bands website.
Photo and review by Sarah Hugel