Young The Giant, Cold War Kids, Joywave 9/13/17

I photographed and reviewed this show at The Pop Break, so here it is recreated below.

Pop Break Live: Young the Giant, Cold War Kids & Joywave at Central Park Summer Stage, New York City

There’s nothing like a triple-header at the Central Park SummerStage to close out the summer. On September 13th, Young The Giant played one of the last shows of the season, still supporting their 2016 record Home of the Strange, with fellow Southern Californians Cold War Kids and Rochester, New York-natives Joywave. This was the first official NYC stop for Cold War Kids and Joywave, each playing material from their newest albums LA Divine and Content, respectively.

Joywave opened the event in the early afternoon with a concise but energetic set led by singer Daniel Armbruster and his usual wry humor. Playing tracks off both the band’s smashing debut How Do You Feel Now? and their most recent effort Content, Joywave gave the crowd a reason to dance before the sun went down. Their most recent single “It’s A Trip!” fit right alongside their hit from two years ago, “Tongues.”


It’s a Trip!
Little Lies You’re Told
Somebody New

Cold War Kids, in usual form, brought soul and grace to the stage, opening with their classic, “All This Could Be Yours.” Singer Nathan Willett and bassist Matt Maust were in top form, playing Cold War Kids’ standards while still remaining fresh and on their toes. The lead single off their sixth studio album LA Divine, “Love Is Mystical” was a notable standout; the crowd was eager to join in and clap along with Willett’s tambourine. The highlight of the night, however, had to be the band’s sultry, jazzy, and sexy rendition of Rihanna’s “Love On The Brain” – an unusual cover that, by the end, sounded as if it was originally written for and by Cold War Kids.


All This Could Be Yours
Miracle Mile
Hang Me Up to Dry
Can We Hang On?
Love Is Mystical
Mexican Dogs
Love on the Brain (Rihanna cover)
Lost That Easy
So Tied Up
Cameras Always On
Hospital Beds
Something Is Not Right With Me

Young The Giant, the night’s headliners, wasted little time before immersing the SummerStage crowd into their album’s lead single and hot-topic conceit: America. Or, as the band brands it: “Amerika.” Singer Sameer Gadhia took the darkened stage backed by a track of famous American songs in pop culture, including Ray Charles’ “America The Beautiful,” Miley Cyrus’ “Party In The USA,” and Springsteen’s “Born In The USA.” With each “patriotic” song layering into each other and the bright, angular stage littered with flowers and modern geometric shapes, Young The Giant embodied true headliners. Their performance wasn’t keen on being nostalgic, but relevant and timely in the best way possible. Classic singalongs “Something To Believe In,” “Cough Syrup,” and the closer “My Body” left everyone in Central Park that night feeling like they had just witnessed something truly special. I can’t wait to see where Young The Giant goes next, because it’s only up from here.


Something to Believe In
I Got
Titus Was Born
Mr. Know‐It‐All
It’s About Time
Cough Syrup
Firelight (acoustic)
Nothing’s Over
Mind Over Matter
Home of the Strange

Jungle Youth
My Body

Joywave 6/20/16

(a) setlist

    1. Destruction
    2. In Clover
    3. Feels Like a Lie
    4. Parade
    5. Now
    6. Alice
    7. Nice House
    8. True Grit
    9. Traveling at the Speed of Light
    10. Golden State
    11. Bad Dreams
    12. Somebody New
    13. Life in a Bubble I Blew


  1. Tongues
  2. Destruction

(b) highlights

  • I really just love how Joywave doesn’t give a shit about 90% of anything ever going on
  • “Golden State”!!! one of my favs from the band’s first EP Koda Vista
  • I’ve noticed in the recent past that, as a band, Joywave has developed a bit of a chip on their shoulder since the release of their last album How Do You Feel Now?, which I mentioned in previous reviews, but I didn’t feel that too much at this show; in fact, the band felt pretty genuine and happy to be performing – that was great
  • this setlist was ace – loved it from beginning to end

(c) lowlights

  • playing “Destruction” twice is still hilarious after about two years of this schtick going on, but…I like “Tongues” and I want to hear the whole thing; for the second time live, Joywave has cut “Tongues” in half to interject “Destruction” a second time and I’m hoping this will be the last time
  • the median age of the average concert-goer at this event was roughly 16 and I don’t know why
  • the Music Hall of Williamsburg is such a garbage venue – how does a MUSIC hall continually have SOUND issues??? like, every show???

(d) overall thoughts

Joywave have grown quite a bit in the past year or so. I feel privileged to have seen Joywave a little less than a dozen times now over the last three years, so I’m pretty confident in thinking that their best days are ahead of them. They’re fun, solid performers who know how to take control of the audience and set the mood quickly and assertively.

Because they’ve opened for and toured with so many different bands – Bleachers, Betty Who, Silversun Pickups, Foals, Brandon Flowers, Kopps – their audiences at every show seem to be wildly different. This Music Hall of Williamsburg show in particular had a very, very young audience with only about half having seen the band before. Marketing can do a lot, right?

Essentially, the energy was high, the setlist was great, and baring a few sound issues, Joywave was fantastic. They mentioned they were recording for their next album, which can only mean good things, and I definitely will go out of my way to catch them again.


Bottom line: If you like solid tunes, sassy frontmen with bad facial hair, and a good time, check out Joywave. Or The Killers circa the 2006 Sam’s Town era – both aptly apply.

Joywave 10/20/15

(a) setlist

  1. Destruction
  2. Carry Me
  3. In Clover
  4. Feels Like a Lie
  5. True Grit
  6. Now
  7. Don’t Let It Bring You Down (Neil Young cover)
  8. Nice House
  9. Golden State
  10. Ridge
  11. Parade
  12. Traveling at the Speed of Light
  13. Bad Dreams (w/ Mikaela Davis on harp lead-in instrumental)
  14. Somebody New
  15. Life in a Bubble I Blew
  16. Tongues
  17. Destruction

(b) highlights

  • this felt like perhaps the first Joywave headlining show where they really got to dictate the show; they weren’t opening for anyone, they were fully independent and self-sufficiently awesome
  • they played “Golden State”!! it’s my favorite deep cut from their first EP Koda Vista and I was beyond psyched to see that live
  • the crowd was surprisingly into it the entire time, regardless of being overwhelmingly male – a fact true only for this particular Joywave show, I’ve found
  • loved that the band mentioned having extra money in their budget from the label, which led to them purchasing like a 10-foot tall blow-up replica of their keyboardist Ben Bailey – classiccccc
  • the band did the classic Joywave move of playing only half of “Tongues” before jumping into a second performance of “Destruction” – alright, alright you got me

(c) lowlights

  • could we have at least finished “Tongues” before going into “Destruction” twice? yes, yes we could have

(d) overall thoughts

Undeniably, this show was fun from beginning to end. It truly felt like Joywave was throwing a party and invited all their best friends to hang out. Their CultCo labelmates Kopps opened and they, like Joywave, are fun but in a strangely unique way. My friends and I were in the front row and the night was very much an intimate celebration of Joywave’s success.

The high-energy set kept the room consistently alive as the band relentlessly drove through both the newer hits and the older deep cuts. The band’s self-aware banter and aggressive dancing felt refreshing and exciting, like we were all apart of the band’s growing history. They’re very much a band that understands the notion of performance; every show feels like you’re watching them at a very timely and important moment in their career. It feels like they’re honestly on the verge of blowing up in the music world in a real way. I hope that happens – not only to feel like I was part of a band’s rise but really because they deserve it. Joywave works hard to win audience’s over and I’ll always appreciate that.

As previously mentioned, in classic Joywave manner, the band stopped probably their biggest hit to date, “Tongues” and ended the set with a second performance of “Destruction.” It was funny, I appreciated the sentiment, and it was additionally super cool that that performance ended being heavily featured in their tour music video for “Destruction” (which my friends and I are in!), but…I really wanted to hear all of “Tongues,” guys! Ah, well.

Bottom line: Joywave are fun and talented, and damn, do they know it. They screw around with the crowd at the crowd’s expense quite a bit, but I appreciate that they take risks and never, never bore me.

Joywave 10/13/15

(a) setlist

  1. Destruction
  2. Carry Me
  3. In Clover
  4. Feels Like a Lie
  5. Now
  6. Nice House
  7. Parade
  8. Traveling at the Speed of Light
  9. Bad Dreams


  1. Somebody New
  2. Tongues

(b) highlights

  • this was a CMJ Festival show and the lineup was pretty good – I love going to this fest every fall in New York; it’s really not something to be missed
  • loved the setlist – at this point, the band felt the most full-bodied they’d ever been
  • really solid crowd interaction throughout
  • nabbed the setlist at the end of the show, which was cool – it still hangs in my bedroom today
  • I know some acts would disagree with me, I genuinely like Brooklyn Bowl as a concert venue – yeah so people are bowling like 20 feet away, but isn’t that sort of DIY awesome? (yeah, it’s not DIY at all and very ‘Brooklyn’ but whatever)

(c) lowlights

  • nothing comes to mind

(d) overall thoughts

The CMJ Festival is a cool, week-long shindig that takes places in and around various venues across NYC and Brooklyn in October. Super small and local bands will play, but bigger acts as well. I was super happy to hear Joywave would be headlining that night – their agency was putting on a last-minute event with them at the top of the bill and I was so into it.

I had seen Joywave many times before this, but this was the most present and confident they had felt to me. It was right around this time that “Somebody New” and its accompanying music video came out, and they were gaining more and more traction following the heels of “Tongues” and its success. Their growing popularity made them better performers, yes, but it also brought a bit of self-importance. They’re strangely self-aware of that self-importance, which makes the whole meta-awareness of their band more interesting, but also more complicated. Anyone who has experienced their social media or live show would probably confirm having a similar experience of the band.

Regardless of any of that, the band killed, the crowd was into it, and I didn’t mind too much that they seem to simultaneously actively dislike their own audience while also wanting our approval. I think Joywave makes solid, interesting, and memorable music and I’m eager to hear anything new they come out with soon.


Bottom line: Joywave is fun, CMJ shows are always a neat look into where the music scene might be heading in the future, and there’s nothing wrong with playing a rock show next to people bowling, okay.

Joywave, The Kooks 6/24/15

(i) lineup*

(1a) Joywave
(2b) The Kooks

*Atlas Genius played in between Joywave and The Kooks and they were alright – nothing good or bad to report either way. Just filler.

(1a) (Joywave’s) setlist doesn’t have the details, but I remember them playing maybe 5 or 6 songs. “Destruction,” “Tongues,” “Feels Like a Lie,” “Now,” and “Somebody New” were definitely ones I remember.

(1b) highlights

  • all the aforementioned songs
  • I love the Central Park Summerstage shows – cool environment, good food, generally a nice venue space

(1c) lowlights

  • the crowd didn’t move, as always; as if the entirety of New York is incapable of getting into a band or performance they didn’t immediately pay to see

(1d) overall thoughts

Joywave is best when they feel they need to earn the audience’s respect, I think. They work so hard to make even the most dead crowd move and get into the music. When the audience doesn’t respond, everything just becomes funny. I really remember Daniel calling out New York City crowds for being too cool to dance and my friends and I overcompensating by being super into it, which is always the best.

Bottom Line: Would definitely recommend not only seeing a band play in this Central Park venue, but everyone should absolutely see Joywave live if only for the small chance they play “Destruction” twice.


(2a) (The Kooks’) setlist

    1. Around Town
    2. Ooh La
    3. She Moves in Her Own Way
    4. Seaside
    5. Always Where I Need to Be
    6. Sweet Emotion


  1. Naive

(2b) highlights

  • again, the environment – the middle of Central Park is so beautiful at dusk
  • they didn’t play for long, but the whole crowd was super into it – again, my surprise as hugely popular The Kooks have become over the years
  • the sound and lights were on-point, which can be difficult in an outdoor venue – major props

(2c) lowlights

  • nothing really bad to say

(2d) overall thoughts

Much like their Firefly performance, The Kooks brought such a large sound to their Central Park stint. It’s funny – I remember thinking their set was so full-bodied and resonant with the crowd for just under an hour, but claims they played only seven songs. Isn’t it funny how having a good crowd with solid as hell songs can make me remember the experience differently? Hope The Kooks get even better and continue to put out even bigger sounding songs.

Bottom Line: The Kooks are cool and I swear I’m gonna find out how so many young people have embraced them nearly ten years after they debuted.


Photo by Emily Tan