Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Contenders Series #27: Japandroids - "Art Czars"

(see also:  Aaron and Ilana Go to Concerts!)

Now that I'm regularly writing 3,000 word essays on topics that interest only me (and, fair warning, there will probably be a lot of those), I would guess that no one will call me a slacker for keeping these Contenders/Concerts posts a little bit shorter.  Most of you are probably relieved.  Let's pick up where we left off.

Japandroids - The Independent - April 23, 2010

Ran into Korey and his girlfriend at this show.  They were there to see opener Avi Buffalo, a band Korey knew from the band's early days in Southern California.  Ilana and I showed up later and missed the band, which turns out to have been a bad thing, since Avi Buffalo makes excellent, Shins-y pop/rock.  I did not know this at the time.  Maybe a post on them someday.

A quick note on the Independent:  Ilana has now found a shelf/perch spot at this venue as well, off to the right of the stage.  This is a very good thing.  So, now, if you're trying to talk Ilana into going to a show, her venues of preference are (1) Bottom of the Hill, (2) The Independent (3)  anywhere else.  She likes to sit, and she likes to be able to see.  Can't really argue with that.

Further Ilana observations:  If you know Ilana at all, you know that she loves nothing more than making very specific, deeply involved comparisons.  We'll be walking down the street, and she'll say, "See that guy over there?  Doesn't he look like a cross between Dark Knight-era Christian Bale and my fifth grade science teacher?"  Some of these are world-snaps-into-focus revelations.  Some of them make absolutely no sense.  They all seem to make her very happy.

So, Ilana comparisons from the show:

(1)  Japandroids lead singer Brian King looks like college-aged Ted Mosby from How I Met Your Mother.

Verdict:  I can see it.

(2)  Japandroids song "Heart Sweats" sounds like White Zombie's "More Human than Human"

Verdict:  This has to be the first time anyone has ever referenced White Zombie at an indie rock show.  Still, not completely unwarranted.

As for the show itself:

Japandroids were a huge blog hit last year, while I mostly ignored them because of their stupid, stupid name.  This turns out to have been a huge mistake on my part, as "Young Hearts Spark Fire" would have been an easy top ten song on "100 Songs for 2009," if I had ever listened to it.  Oh man ... I love that song so much.  The guitar sound is just PERFECT.  If there's a better song to listen to on headphones ... at maximum volume ... after a couple beers ... walking home alone ... well, I don't know what it is.

So this is part one of my apology tour to the bands I missed in 2009.  I think there's only one other part, and that involves seeing Woods at some point next month.  It's not really much of a tour.  And I might not even go to that show.  But that's not really the point.

Hoping to keep the blog buzz alive, Japandroids recently released an collection of b-sides and demos, which really isn't that good.  "Art Czars," linked here, is the best of the bunch, and it's pretty good.  But, if you like it, please go listen to "Young Hearts Spark Fire" about ten times in a row.  You can bet that I will.

On to the show:


The band's Canadian politeness and genuine enthusiasm for performing really showed through.  Far removed from the "We love you ... wait, where are we tonight?" stage bombast of most bands, Japandroids actually referenced a specific previous show at the Rickshaw Stop and apologized for not playing minor hit "Wet Hair."

Following on the heels of jj and Sleigh Bells and they're concert strategy of playing a backing track at full volume and basically standing in front of it, it was fun to see Japandroids create an incredible amount of sound with just two people.  I don't think anyone left the show doubting these guys' ability to rock.


As the band admitted, they were vocally shot.  For them, it was the end of a long tour.  King did not have even close to the range or stamina required to sing "Young Hearts Spark Fire."  But he tried.  And he really wanted to.  I guess that's good enough.

Download:  Japandroids - Art Czars

Official Site
Hype Machine
Buy Post-Nothing

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