The fact that Vancouver rock duo Japandroids have been on a relentless tour schedule since early January and still fought like hell to conjure high energy last night at the Glass House speaks volumes about the kind of band they are. The fact that they're merely a duo, and still flooded the room with anthemic rock passion, speaks more of the same. And their unbridled enthusiasm, performed in the absence of hipster pretension, makes them a modern rock band (awash in a sea of pomade-lipped posers) not to be missed.
Sadly, despite giving it their all last night, these two kanucks just couldn't transcend the high mark set by their excellent LPs, 2009's Post-Nothing and 2012's Celebration Rock.
The set began with promise as singer/guitarist Brian King launched into a slowly charging, intentionally off-tuned guitar intro while telling the audience that since it was the last night of a very long tour everyone would have to make the evening count. The band quickly shifted into "Adrenaline Nightshift," a noteworthy anthem on Celebration Rock which featured drummer David Prowse ferociously rolling thunder off his drum kit. His sound, loose and fluid when slow, became tighter as his snare volleys intensified. During the set's second number, "Young Heart's Spark Fire," the crowd wailed along with the jam's impassioned chorus, taking no notice of the duo's increasingly wobbly unison vocals.
Things went downhill on the fan favorite "Younger Us"--typically one of their trusty numbers--which features King ardently bellowing the lyric "Remember when we had them all the run." But the sound, muddied through the Glass House speakers by King's screeching-eagle vocals, was robbed of its emotional sting. By the end of the tune, King's normally triumphant howl, sounded like a deflated yelp.
But there were moments when the band's aura shone through and they reminded the doubting Tom's in attendance just what kind of group the Japandroids can be. The song "Rockers East Vancouver," with Prowse on lead on vocals freed King to let lose with his unconventionally tuned, yet melodic Morse-code riffage. At the song's halfway point, during a brief guitar crescendo, King stood atop the monitor and looked bleary-eyed into the crowd before snapping back into the moment, and slamming his head as if an imaginary piece of chalk were on his forehead and he was drawing a crucifix in the air.
The set ended with a raucous cover of the rockabilly Gun Club song "For the Love of Ivy." King's reverb-drenched voice saw him channeling his inner psychobilly providing a fine finish to an ok set. Fans disappointed by the less than stellar performance take heart, there's nothing wrong with these guys that can't be cured by a few days of restorative rest.
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Overheard: "You guys are fucking awesome," said someone in the crowd. The Crowd:They seemed like hipsters, but the hipsters from the Inland Empire.
Random Notebook Dump:Why does the Weekly cover Pomona shows at all? Am I the only one who thinks that's weird?
The Setlist: Adrenaline Nightshift Young Hearts Spark Fire The Nights of Wine and Roses Rockers East Vancouver Evil's Sweat Wet Hair Younger Us I Quit Girls The House that Heaven Built For the Love of Ivy