Arkansas duo “joan” brings indie vibes to Brighton Music Hall


Shayla Manning/Journal Staff

On the first listen, it is unexpected that 80’s synth-pop duo joan comes from a city like Little Rock, AR. Their hazey, indie love songs go against the grain of their hometown’s primary sounds, which is mostly known for its country and rock influences. The pair made their way to Boston’s Brighton Music Hall on Friday for a sold out show. Currently on a twelve stop tour supporting the band Half Alive, their danceable rhythms kept the crowd moving the whole night.

They kicked off their set with several songs off their first EP “portra,” and the crowd immediately erupted with excitement. Energetic tracks like “take me on,” “tokyo” and “stop and stare” conveyed deeply meaningful lyrics through loud beats and fast paced guitar riffs.

Comprised of Alan Thomas and Steven Rutherford, joan’s sound can be compared to bands like the 1975, LANY and COIN. Taking influence from icons like Prince, Michael Jackson and Don Henley, they credit pop as their favorite genre.

However, the stories and messages behind their songs go deeper than many of the mainstream pop bands currently topping the charts. With a deep connection to their Christian faith, joan considers it a driving force for their music.

“For us, God is a core part of our lives, so is our faith” said Thomas in an interview with The Suffolk Journal.

Thomas and Rutherford both grew up attending church regularly, and while they liked the idea of being in a Christian band, that was not the route they wanted to follow.

“It informs a lot in our daily lives as people, but in our music we’ve kind of chosen to write songs about our wives, you know, love songs to our ladies,” said Thomas. “It’s been really fun to be in a pop band. Meeting all these people from all different backgrounds, and there’s no judgement, everyone is just trying to do their art and that’s awesome.”

Joan glided through their set effortlessly, despite Thomas admitting that he felt slightly under the weather. They featured new songs that seemed to grab the crowd’s attention and interest just as much as their slightly older ones, all while keeping the momentum up during the entire set.

“You guys are rowdy, I love it!” Thomas yelled into the crowd.

With Boston being their fourth stop on the tour, every night seems to be better than the last for the humble Arkansas duo.

“This has been the most insane crowd tonight. This is our first time playing in Boston! I meant to say that on stage but I forgot,” said Thomas in an interview with The Journal. “I’ve been to Boston before and I really love it here.”

They ended their time on stage with their hits “love somebody like you” and “i loved you first,” pulling on the emotions of those in the audience. While playing their set, they created a space full of pure zeal and simply fun music, and appeared to have a great time doing so. With an enormous passion for music and their fans, joan made sure to give the crowd a set that they would think about far after the night ended.

Joan promised that new music is on the way following this tour, as they plan to continue writing in the near future. Until then, their goal is to spend as much time with family and friends back in Little Rock.