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Show Review: Joywave cleanses The Nile with colorful AZ show

If you were at The Nile in downtown Mesa on Saturday night, you know who was the star of the show. It wasn’t almost monday, despite the fans that were movin’ and groovin’ the whole time during their set. It wasn’t even Joywave, the beloved headliner who is out on their Cleanse tour, promoting the album of the same name. No, the star of the show was the hole in the Nile’s stage, which was mentioned no fewer than five times over the course of the night. 

It started with California trio almost monday, already an Atlas favorite after their appearance at Innings Fest, and their funky sunshine pop. Vocalist Dawson Daugherty had donned his signature oversized sunglasses and was dancing with the beat, never missing a step. Impressive, all things considered—you’ll never know when a DIY background will come in handy. 

Aside from commentary on the stage, Daugherty joked that almost monday started as a Joywave cover band, and that’s how they ended up on tour together. The crowd ate it up, but not as much as they loved the new tracks the band revealed during their set. More feel-good tunes are on the way, but until then, we’ll be enjoying the hell out of “Broken People,” the final song of the set. 

Blinding headlights and a beeping horn interrupted the brief interlude afterward, announcing Joywave’s arrival. And arrive they did, to a meticulously designed set featuring a Corvette—with a custom Arizona license plate that read JOYWAVE—and spinning brushes modeled after a car wash. “Cleanse,” literally. 

After a few songs, frontman Daniel Armbruster mused about being back on the road, returning to the Phoenix area, and the music they’ve released since early 2020. Then, it was his turn to mention not only the stage but also the show happening in the basement. (The Nile also houses a second venue called The Underground in the building’s basement.) 

Breaking the fourth wall like this is classic Joywave, who doesn’t take themselves too seriously. Bands can fall prey to the clout-chasing of social media and content creation, but this group lets the catalog speak for itself. Every other track elicited an “Oh yeah!” moment, as the crowd remembered just how many songs are Joywave’s. “Half Your Age”, “It’s a Trip!”, and “Somebody New” come to mind. But a personal highlight? “Every Window Is a Mirror”, which felt so fresh and so high energy. 

Hitting us with the triple power wash of “Tongues”, “Dangerous”, and “Destruction” for the encore, Joywave absolutely ensured they were scrubbing away everyone’s worries and troubles before leaving the stage. You could say the crowd was cleansed.  

Check out all the photos from the show! 

Story and photos by Taylor Knauf