Japandroids Life of the Party
The venue is sweltering. As the temperature drops outside in the downtown Toronto streets, the inside of the El Mocambo pumps up the heat. It’s hot, it’s sweaty, and the patrons are growing impatient. Countless men and women sip back beers and fancy drinks in the hopes of cooling off, but after a few they realize it’s not getting any cooler in here. Everyone grows a little stirred after the first two hours, and it’s exactly how Japandroids want it. At the stroke of midnight, Vancouver-grown guitarist Brian King and drummer David Prowse take the stage and proceed, over the course of just over an hour, to show how two best friends indebted to their passion for music can have more fun and get a room of people going than any large-scale band could.
Fittingly enough, after some quick introductions the duo opened the night with “No Allegiance to the Queen,” which opens with the a cappella statement, “we need air!” The wind machine turned on and blew back King‘s frizzy ‘fro, and the band continued to rock it to the bitter end. The setlist included tracks off of the group’s Polyvinyl and debut full-length Post-Nothing, with standouts including “The Boys Are Leaving Town,” “Rockers East Vancouver,” “Crazy/Forever,” and a particularly energetic, if slower rendition of the popular “Young Hearts Spark Fire.” Tracks, however, were not limited to the album they’re touring. Somewhat deprecatingly, King stated, “our debut is only 35 minutes, so if we played the whole thing for you we still wouldn’t cover enough time.” A handful of tracks from the self-released All Lies (2007) and Lullaby Death Jams (2008) EPs were played to popular favour.
Their performance was alive, but not imperfect. The band restarted “Young Hearts” and muddled the first verse of “Darkness on the Edge of Gastown,” but it’s completely irrelevant because of the band’s enviable presence. These two dudes who have obviously been kicking it in the scene for far too long are finally getting the recognition they deserve. They appear to have avoided most health problems and misfortunes (Prowse‘s hand looked battered as his bandages opened and he bled all over the drum kit) to persevere and get the crowd riled. They’re fun, they’re dedicated, and most of all they put on a good show! Eight dollars for not one, but three bands, each playing nearly an hour, is unbelievable. Japandroids could have easily phoned it in, but instead they gave it their all and gave their fans (and likely their livers) a night they won’t soon forget. Keep your eyes on these guys.