Joywave lead singer Daniel Armbruster on COVID, Fringe Festival show

Joywave was touring in Western Europe when the coronavirus pandemic began taking hold there.

By late February 2020, Italy was reporting clusters of cases.

On March 1, with COVID-19 on the cusp of its global rampage, the indie-rock outfit — which had been keeping a wary eye on news reports — played a show in Berlin, Germany.

The next day, its four members, who grew up in the town of Greece and still live in the area, got on a flight home.

After touching down at Newark Liberty International Airport, U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents wanted to know just one thing: Had they been to Wuhan, China, where the outbreak originated?

Joywave will play a free concert on Parcel 5 on the final day of the 2021 KeyBank Rochester Fringe Festival. Photo by Evan Morgan.

“We were waiting for follow-up questions, and there were no other questions,” recalled lead singer Daniel Armbruster, sounding incredulous.

A little while later, Joywave’s connecting flight landed in Rochester. 

“My girlfriend picked me up at the airport,” Armbruster said, “and I said, ‘We are going to Wegmans immediately. This is going to be terrible. You have no idea.’”

Then they made a second stop. “We bought all the cat food in the pet store,” he said.