The first thing that strikes me when Welsh rock trio The Joy Formidable performs is how unimaginably huge they sound; The Big Roar was a wildly appropriate name for their 2011 debut album.
During my most recent encounter, while watching the band lay waste to the Vice party last month at SXSW, I couldn’t believe three people could whip up such a cyclone of sound. Having comprehended that, I couldn’t believe they had any stated goals beyond an unquenchable quest for hugeness.
So I was surprised to hear bassist Rhydian Dafydd say size doesn’t matter in this band’s world.
“I think intensity is the important thing,” Dafydd said by phone last week, “and you can obviously have that from the quietest of moments.”
Thus, the enormous Zeppelin-gone-shoegaze stomper “Maw Maw Song” lives beside the immensely pretty acoustic ballad “Silent Treatment” on sophomore set Wolf’s Law. Both of them summon massive emotional power, so Dafydd might be on to something. His band certainly had reason to be emotional while crafting Wolf’s Law.
“We lost some family members and friends along the way in making this record,” Dafydd said. “Ritzy’s parents went through a long, drawn-out divorce. She was estranged from her dad for years, and they’re finally talking again.”
The title is a nod to Wolff’s Law, a theory that bones get stronger to adapt to stress. It became a motif, Dafydd said — “not healing so much as trying to reconnect and feeling that it’s important at least to live in the now.”
So expect Dafydd and his bandmates Ritzy Bryan and Matt Thomas to be fully present Saturday at LC Pavilion, where they’ll headline CD102.5 Day’s “Second Dose” after sets from The Neighbourhood, Guards, San Cisco and Post Coma Network. It’s the biggest Columbus gig yet for a rock band that keeps getting bigger — in popularity, not just sound — at a time when world-conquering rock bands are an endangered species.
“I think we’ve always felt like we’re in our own bubble, but it doesn’t really matter,” Dafydd said. “It’s about keeping our blinkers on and always being a slave to what you write, and writing something that’s meaningful.”