photos by Dominick Mastrangelo; words by Andrew Sacher
Japandroids at MHoW, 6/28/2012
"They always tell us in Brooklyn that people just do this," said singer Brian King of Japandroids with his arms folded at his chest, before the band began their set at Music Hall of Williamsburg last night (6/28, one night after they played Bowery Ballroom). "But I don't believe 'em, I think you guys are gonna prove 'em wrong." And he couldn't have been more right. Less than two seconds into opener, "The Boys Are Leaving Town," the entire crowd was moving, pushing each other, raising their fists, and shouting along.
Indie rock has had a tendency to look down upon this stuff -- rocking out, shoutalongs, high gain anthemic power chords -- but Japandroids simply don't give a fuck. Their new record is filled with rockisms (I mean it's called Celebration Rock for god's sake) that have little to do with recent trends in indie rock, and they're certainly not doing it to be ironic. They've got enough references to thunder, hell, and fire to make AC/DC proud, huge Springsteen-via-Replacements crashes, and the captured free spirits of youth with just enough anxiety looking towards the rest of life. And they bring all of this with them to the stage, performing with the genuine excitement of a band's first live show ever, and the ruthlessness of their last. Brian did often mention that touring wears them out, and that when you get towards the end of a tour (which they are) sometimes you just want to throw the towel in. He continued, saying when he sees reactions to their songs like the ones the band got at Music Hall of Williamsburg last night, it's what gives them the strength to give it their all every single night.
Japandroids' 14-song, encore-less set included every track off Celebration Rock, and was filled out with a bunch off their 2009 debut, Post-Nothing. There wasn't a song where the crowd failed to sing along, and even on the ones where less people seemed to know the words, there were plenty of "oh oh oh ohs" to join in. Before going into Celebration Rock opener, "The Nights of Wine and Roses," Brian told the crowd how The Dream Syndicate was the biggest influence on the new record, and that the song's title is an homage to their 1982 album, The Days of Wine and Roses. They followed that with another standout, the three-line singalong of "Wet Hair," and then "Evil's Sway," for which Brian acknowledged that "people on the internet" have said the song includes a part ripped from Tom Petty: "I'm not denying it... but that means we all know it, so you better sing along. If i look out and someone's not singing along to that part, I call bullshit."
As the set neared its end, they played the only slow song they've got, "Continuous Thunder,"which Brian almost seemed a bit apologetic about playing, but it would've taken a lot more than a slow song to sedate the crowd. Brian mentioned that that they play "Continuous Thunder" to save about 5 minutes of energy and give twice as much to the next song, which of course was "Young Hearts Spark Fire," undoubtedly the wildest moment of the show. They closed with their cover of The Gun Club's "For the Love of Ivy," which feels slightly out of place on Celebration Rock, but was a powerful closer to the night with frantic psychobilly blasts that ignited a dancing, pushing fury.
The show opened with a solid opening set from rapper Cadence Weapon, who were introduced by Brian King. Though it could seem out of place for a rapper to be touring with Japandroids (though in 2012 it really doesn't, with all of the rap/indie crossover that's been happening), Cadence explained how much in common he's got with Japandroids. "1, There's 2 of us, 2 of them. 2, Canadian... nuff said. and 3. did you hear me scream in that last song? that was rock n roll style," he said in reference to the piercing screams on "Jukebox," off his recently released LP, Hope in Dirt City. Cadence does have a bit of that punk-rap thing going on too like Doomtree, Atmosphere, and Death Grips. His set was short but strong and included other standouts like "Loft Party," the Hope in Dirt City title track, and the Grimes-produced "88."
The Japandroids/Cadence Weapon tour continues in Philly tonight. More pictures and the setlist from the Brooklyn show are below...
The Boys Are Leaving Town
Rockers East Vancouver
The Nights of Wine and Roses
The House That Heaven Built
Young Hearts Spark Fire
For The Love Of Ivy