Barry Johnson

On January 13, 2016, Frances Quinlan of Hop Along and Barry Johnson of Joyce Manor did something they rarely do, play solo. This will always be remembered as the night Frances Quinlan made me cry and Barry Johnson made me admit I like Joyce Manor.

The crowd was a good mix of young and younger. Lots of plaid, baseball caps, and black clothes. Gladly there was less of those loud pop punk screaming fans. These fans seemed more real. They were there to listen, and actually take in the music of these musicians.

When Frances Quinlan came on stage, the crowd went quiet. I think I may have been the only one muttering something about my beer being in the way, for the first time at a show connected to Joyce Manor: I felt like the loud one. I also was the only one in my view with their phone out, but I was just trying really hard to get at least one good photo. (I think I got two, because I had to put my phone down the moment she started to sing). Quinlan’s voice reminds me of that anxious feeling when you don’t know what to say, so you kind of want to barf it all out, but she lets it out in a cracking and beautiful voice. Everyone in the crowd was silent. We all looked as in we were holding something in and she was letting it out for us. Frances is the real deal. She didn’t need any help to make us listen. We were all emotionally involved in the moment. I make jokes about how much I cry, when in all honesty I never cry in public, but during performance, I couldn’t stop tearing up.

No one wanted her set to end. I think some of us even cried more when it was over. I did find out that she’s coming back to the bay with all of Hop Along soon. They’re playing with Dr. Dog at the Fox Theater on January 30th. 

Frances Quinlan, photo by James Chan

When Barry Johnson came to the stage, there were some fangirl screams. Most of the the fangirls were at the front of the stage, and really – God bless them. I am not a religious or spiritual person but somehow watching them watching him made my respect for fangirls sky rocket. As a recovering Conor Oberst fangirl, I know how they feel. I know how it is look up at a man that no matter what you do or they do you, keep looking up. I feel like Barry Johnson might just be the Conor Oberst for the young girls of this generation. I also forgot I actually know a lot of Joyce Manor songs, (aka most of them). I have gotten so used to hiding my love for Joyce Manor under some bitter old act that I created after being smacked at back of the head during one of their shows a couple years ago. I got caught up in the show. I got caught up just like everyone else and started singing along because Barry kept saying he needed help.

I did get a bit annoyed by how much Johnson kept talking himself down while on stage. Maybe it was part of his act, maybe he really was uncomfortable with playing solo, but it only made me feel like the show was better. Maybe it’s because by him talking himself down I lowered my expectation or maybe it was the fact that he wasn’t that bad and the fans only made him better. Whenever he forgot a lyric, the fans were the ones singing it perfectly. The fans and intimacy of the show, made me love Joyce Manor again.