Mt. Joy’s lead singer, Matt Quinn, noted jokingly during his performance that maybe there was something about the Joy Theater choosing a band called Mt. Joy for their opening. The crowd whistled happily, feeling the chill of being back together and yes, feeling joy. After 19 months of being closed, The Joy Theater, located on Canal Street, opened its doors to all those who had a vaccine card and wanted to see Mt. Joy live on October 19. The theater has been around since 1947 and was originally a hot spot movie theater located in the middle of the bustle of Canal Street.
Mt. Joy is an indie rock band that some of my friends love, but I had never listened to much. I went to the concert mainly because of the opportunity to see live music in this city where I have only months left, but I ended up becoming a Mt. Joy and Joy Theater convert.
The theater itself was sold out, with 1200 in the audience, and yet I never felt too crowded against anyone. I had space to dance and to comfortably talk to those around me. It has two levels, with a balcony on top where there are seats and some people were sitting and some were standing and dancing. We were in the General Admission area below where no standing spot is a bad view and the intimacy of the space makes you feel immediately connected to the stage and the fans. There are three bars and really friendly staff members.
The band was special in their precision, their almost angelic voices, and their acknowledgement of how amazing it was to get to be together again, especially in New Orleans, a city that they have sung about. At the end of the concert, after we pleaded for an encore that we finally got, the entire crowd celebrated by grabbing a friend or any fan, and dancing in the middle of the floor. Everyone was laughing, twirling each other around, and generally rejoicing in being able to experience this together. It was one of the most special nights I have had in this city.
I recommend Joy Theater to anyone who is nervous about getting into concerts here because it is such an easy place to navigate and will definitely encourage you to keep coming back to the music scene in New Orleans in new ways. The space itself is historic and even getting to be there today, amidst Covid and hurricanes gives the body a chill made up of gratitude, exhilaration, and connectedness, not only to people but to time past and present.
Cover photo by Emily Ryan