Review: Mt. Joy Captivates Audience At Royale
By Monica Chang, Photography by Monica Chang and Grace Carlson
Mt. Joy delivered a radiant performance last Sunday at the Boston Royale, filling the space with soaring guitar solos and resonant vocals. The five-piece band is known for its ability to blend smooth acoustic folk with indie rock.
Morningbird, a Boston-based alternative rock band, opened the show with incredible energy. Lead singer and guitarist John Cattini (who also is Harry Styles’ Bostonian doppelganger?) crooned the chorus to the band’s top hit “Love in Different Ways” - a sentimental ode to a lover marked with smooth falsetto and lush harmonies. The crowd was all in.
After Morningbird’s lively performance, Mt. Joy kicked off the night with “Sheep”, a politically charged anthem written in the aftermath of the 2015 Baltimore riots. With string lights wrapped around their microphones and backlit by a soft indigo glow, there was something ethereal about the band’s stage presence.
Hundreds of fans joined in on one of the band’s most popular singles, ‘Astrovan”. The folk-tinged fan favorite tackles the struggles of artists as they try to pursue their passion. At the song’s climax, the entire crowd shouted along, “I don’t wanna see those tears again. You know, Jesus drives an Astrovan.”
“Astrovan” actually lead to Mt. Joy’s formation. Matt Quinn (vocals/guitar) and Sam Cooper (guitar), initially just high school friends in Philadelphia, reunited in Los Angeles in 2016 to start recording music. They recorded their first single “Astrovan” with Michael Byrnes on bass in September of that year. With Jackie Miclau on keys and Sotiris Eliopoulos on drums, the five-piece band started making a name for itself on Spotify before opening for The Head and the Heart, playing at Lollapalooza, and finally releasing the highly-acclaimed self-titled debut album, Mt. Joy.
Midway through the show, Quinn gave an endearing shout-out to his alma mater, Northeastern University, telling the audience that “somewhere here there’s some professors that had a big hand in me getting here, so thank you to them as well.”
“Dirty Love” was another highlight of the night, pairing Quinn’s silky falsetto and bluesy vocals with Eliopoulos’ expansive bass drum sound. Mt. Joy followed up with another foot-stomping sing-along, “Jenny Jenkins”. Miclau had a moment to shine with a mind-bending solo, featuring glissandos and improvisational magic on the keys. Covers of “Ain’t No Sunshine” by Bill Withers and “Do You Realize??” by The Flaming Lips were a pleasant surprise and deviation from the band’s typical repertoire - demonstrating Mt. Joy’s ability to put a unique twist on two classics. Silver Lining was a classic rock tune that closed out the show, showing off Cooper’s insane talent on the guitar. ]
During the last song of the encore, Quinn was illuminated by a halo of white light as he sang “all of my favorite people, they don't march to the beat of your drum.” The song was honest and beautiful and focused on embracing individuality, which is honestly how I would also describe Mt. Joy as a band. Mt. Joy has chosen to embrace its own unique mix of talent, storytelling, and infectiously good music. And we’re lucky that they have.
Mt. Joy setlist at Boston Royale
I’m a Wreck
Younger Days (Matt and Jackie)
Come with Me
Written by Monica Chang
Photography by Monica Chang and Grace Carlson