Story and Photos: Spencer Fleming
Benson was buzzing with live music Wednesday (11/2) as the Waiting Room played host to The Joy Formidable coming all the way from Wales! While the show was a bit smaller than the band may be accustomed to, Ritzy, Rhydian, and Matt played their hearts out and gave a select number of Omahans a night to remember.
Before heading to the show I caught up with my good friend John and my brother Scott for some Beercade and dinner. You know it wouldn't be a proper Benson evening without a trip to Omaha Taco Co. I swear they're not a sponsor, but maybe they should be? Coming soon, "I heart puffy tacos" bumper stickers. After stuffing myself with crispy taco goodness we sauntered over the the Waiting Room. I casually listened as Scott and John went back and forth about the history of the Nintendo Virtual Boy.
Taking advantage of the mild weather I hung outside and continued to take in the obscure Nintendo facts. It wouldn't be long before I heard the upbeat pop-rock sounds of the opening band Cuffed Up. While I would've loved to stay and wax poetically over the intricacies of Mario and Donkey Kong I had a job to do so I made my way inside. The crowd was much smaller than I had anticipated but those who showed up early were enthusiastically moving and shaking to the hip indie tunes from this LA outfit.
Cuffed Up rocked the stage for over 30 minutes with a joyful exuberance hitting a mix of new and old songs and even pulled out a fresh cover of "Breeders" by Nirvana. Frequent Stories reader Scotty was right up against the stage rocking out and having a blast. He was excited to get a signed set list from Cuffed Up as part of his merch and memorabilia haul.
After Cuffed Up the room started to fill in a bit more, but the crowd was still a bit smaller than the last time I caught The Joy Formidable on a random work trip to Philadelphia. At first I was a little bummed because I want the bands coming through Omaha to leave with a good impression, but something really special transpired.
After the first song the Ritzy greeted the crowd and said how happy she was to be back in Omaha. She recalled playing The Waiting Room two years ago "In 2017" (joking that it's still 2019 and we haven't yet experienced the pandemic). She mentioned having drinks on the rooftop across the street in the summertime and what a fond memory it was.
The room was so quiet that the band literally had a conversation with the crowd the whole set. One of the fans mentioned that they would be visiting The Joy Formidable's home country of Wales in January and the band went on to tell him all these cool places to check out. When speaking of one of the beaches they told a story about making a disastrous music video that ended in an expensive camera breaking and the director having a near-meltdown.
Shortly after the music video story Rhydian mentioned that their van barley made it to Omaha and they had to drive 45mph from the show the night before in St. Louis. Talk about an adventure! They said Seattle was up next and were met with groans from the crowd when asked if they could make it in the van's current state. I sincerely hope they were joking and were able to get the van back up to full power before making that trek.
Throughout the rest of the set the crowd was treated to a personal intro and backstory from Ritzy before every song, making it feel so very personal. Though the crowd was small the band seemed genuinely happy to play and have this intimate time Omaha. The Joy Formidable put in a good 75 minutes before ending the night with one of their most popular hits "Whirring". As the wall of sound commenced, all around the room folks were dancing and smiling. The Joy was most definitely formidable.
That's not the end. The story continues HERE!!!
The Joy Formidable
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