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Archive for the ‘Japandroids’ Category

SOUNDTRACK: RHEOSTATICS-The Horseshoe Tavern Toronto (February 16, 2001).

This was night 3 of 4 of the Horseshoe Tavern’s 53rd Birthday bash. This show was webcasted by a company called virtuecast which was pretty ambitious for 2001. The Chickens opened the show.

They play seven song from the forthcoming Night of the Shooting Stars but otherwise they continue to mix things up a lot.

After a lengthy, effusive intro yesterday, Jeff Cohen is more concise tonight, which is good because this show goes super late.

This show is one of my favorites.  The opening bunch of songs are just phenomenal.

“Fat” absolutely rocks and is a great way to open the show.

Martin is excited to see everyone: “Its hot in here.  What a rock thing to say.”
Tim: “It’s the humidity.  That’s not a rock thing to say.”
Dave: “Yeah but it’s a dry heat.”
Tim: “Dry humidity.” “It’s those damn Chickens they just warm things up way too much.
Don: “It’s like a damn incubator up here.”

Someone shouts for “Californication” and Dave replies that the Red Hot Chili Peppers cover band is down the street.

The second song is an amazing “Sweet, Rich, Beautiful, Mine.”  Martin is totally into it–screaming and wailing vocally and on guitar.  Martin is fully animated on “Soul Glue” as well with fantastic backing vocals.

Someone shouts for “Jessie’s Girl.”  Dave replies, “There’s been a trend in people calling out bad songs asking us to play them.   But it would only make it worse if we played them because you don’t really want to hear them.  Rheos do Rick Springfield would be a very bad thing–a lot of bad energy.”

Two new songs, a ripping “CCYPA” (I’m a member!” and one of the best live versions of “We Went West” that I can recall.  It’s really sharp and alive and Martin’s guitar solo sounds great.

Martin’s a little sloppy with the lyrics of “Northern Wish,” but it’s got great energy.

They haven’t done “When Winter Comes” in a while, but it sounds really good.  The crazy noisy guitar intro is cool and Don says they could send that out to The Chickens.  There’s a great dual guitar solo like Thin Lizzy and Dave sings about “greasepaint on VH1” instead of Video hits.  There’s a wild sloppy ending and lot of jamming.

It’s followed by a tidy “PIN” and then Martin rips through “I Fab Thee.”  It’s funny  that they talk about it being from a children’s album, while Martin loves to throw in that line about masturbating.  Dave says One Yello Rabbit is going to do a stage production of Harmelodia in 2002.

“Here To There To You” is Dave’s sweet acoustic song.  It leads to “Take Me In Your Hands” which Tim says “you might want to burn this next one in a CD.”

They invite Alun Piggins on stage and he sings his song “Heading Out West.”  It has a kind of country feel with gentle harmonica.

Martin says this next song (“Palomar”) takes place in Sowthern California (the same way the Japandroids pronounce Southern).  Dave sasys, “I really love the way you say southern its one of the things I love about you that extra bit of style.”  Martin doesn’t quite hear the difference but then says “English ain’t my first language.”

Dave loves a guy’s shirt which he shows off, but we never hear what it says.  Bummer.  Martin starts whistling the “We Are Very Star” melody so maybe it’s something about that.

“Legal Age Life At Variety Store” is wild and stomping.  Dave from The Chickens comes up and sings “I Wanna Be Sedated” (very well).  Dave introduces him as “Joey Ramone from The Chickens.”

They talk about The County Killers whom they met in 1986 at the Rivoli with Margaret Atwood and Ben Kerr (a Canadian author, broadcaster, musician and perennial candidate, who was most famous as one of Toronto, Ontario’s quirky street performers) on the bill.  They started the musical hockey night and this is the 14th year of music and hocket where bands lace up the skates and play.

Martin says “Satan Is The Whistler” is a funny song. They fly through it–sloppy with the fast parts and the ending which Martin comments as flub flub flub.   Don notes: “we’ve made it our policy to mess up the ending of every song tonight because this is all going to be webcast and we can’t have proper versions floating around.”

“Claire” is beautiful and then Dave says, “we’re gonna leave you with a dance number.”  It hasn’t been a dancing crowd but we hope to turn things around.  “Song Of The Garden” as a rocking ending with that wild guitar nonsense formation.

After the encore, Dave dedicates “Mumbletypeg” to Janet and baby Cecilia (aw, she’s at least 18 now).

The audience shouts for all kinds of songs, but Dave says how about “The Idiot” and it’s a solid version that segues into a strong, intense version of “Shaved Head.”

They start playing house music, but the band comes back after 2 minutes (which must have been a surprise).

Martin: “We’ve got a plan”
Don: “The plan is to keep on rocking until tomorrow.”
Someone: “Unfortunately I’ve been informed it already is tomorrow”
Tim: “That’s right, so see ya later.”  Then he notes: “Burn this one on your CD.”  It’s a rocking “Four Little Songs/PROD/Four Little Songs.”  Dave comments throughout the song: “Meanwhile in France” before Tim’s part and “can’t go wrong …can’t go wrong… unless its Don” (before Don’s part).  After a ripping PROD, they return to “four” with a completely nonsensical rambling jam.  It sounds terrible but fun (Tim: hey this is easy).

They end the night with “Don’t Say Goodnight,” a sweet folk song.  It’s a lovely ending to the night.  And people don’t want to leave, but JC says, “Sorry, it’s really late thanks for coming out an celebrating The Horsehoe.”

It’s an amazing show.

[READ: February 13, 2019] “Split Tooth”

This was a great story from an amazing talent.  I’ve seen her perform live and she is amazing.  But I didn’t know he could write so well.

This story begins with a girl in grade eight growing up in the North.

“It’s pitch black outside.  Dead winter.  We have not seen the sun in weeks.”  The door has frozen shut but “school has not been cancelled: it’s not cold enough outside. It has to be at least minus fifty with the wind chill to merit a day off.”

The cold has scared the blood out of her toes but Kamiit (mukluks) help feet navigate the snow and ice.

School sucks.  She has a cold sore and will likely be called “soresees” until it is gone.  The nicknames are never kind but are strangely amusing like “nibble-a-cock” given to the girl who “gave a blowjob to that hotdog on a dare.” (more…)

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[ATTENDED: February 25, 2017] Japandroids

I saw Japandroids in February of last year.  It was a wild show in which two guys made a ton of noise and sounded great doing it.  The crowd was huge, there was much slam dancing and crowd surfing.  It was intense and exhausting.

So I was pretty excited to see that they’d be playing Boot & Saddle for two nights in a row.  I can remember standing outside on a cold day trying to refresh my page while the wifi tried to connect to something, anything.  But I was sold out.  And then they announced a third show, just as I refreshed my email.  I was able to score a ticket for that third night.  They later announced a fourth night.

I assumed it would be really packed so I got  there plenty early,

I was right up front and, in a club this size, there’s no slam dancing or crowd surfing (just lots of yelling).

As with most Boot & Saddle shows, it felt like this show was just for me and the girls in front of me.  Just like at Union Transfer, Brian King stood with his guitar on my left and David Prowse was behind the kit (facing King) on my right.

I didn’t realize that the band was still touring their last album, Near To The Wild Heart Of Life.  This wasn’t a new showcase or anything.  They told us that they had opened this tour in Philly at Union Transfer (I didn’t know that) and they wanted to finish it up here as well.  (Although they did add an extra night to their tour when they played Asbury park when they opened for Hold Steady.

Like last time, they opened with the roaring title track.  And how much fun is it when a whole room screams that hey are “fired up.”

The setlist was surprisingly similar for all four nights, with the different songs being one old song and two brand new ones.  Japandroids have 3 albums out (and a B-sides collection).  They played 4 of 8 songs from their new album and 5 from the previous album and 4 of 8 from their debut.  This surprises me given that it’s just the two of them and they don;t have to worry about stage effects or lights or anything.

In fact the lights were giving them a hard time on our night.  The lights went out for a second.  They got stuck on red for a bunch of songs (Brian: can you please change the lights to anything but red)  I also happened to get this weird lighting effect on camera.

But Japandroids are all about fun and they came to have fun, to sweat and to stretch out their songs to pretty lengthy jams.  And, heck it was great hearing those songs up close.  “Fire’s Highway” and “Heart Sweats” sounded fantastic and it was great watching King play these surprisingly complex chords.

It was also fun having Prowse so close–watching him lean back between songs to stretch out.

Prowse pounds the drums.  At one point his snare drum even fell over–someone in front of me righted it–that would have been a cool stage story, if I had been closer.

During one of the pauses, Prowse was chatting with the audience.  The guy who replaced the snare seemed to have been at the previous two shows and they started talking about Vancouver.

King sings most of the songs, but Prowse does get lead on a couple, like Rockers East Vancouver and of course he does all of the backing vocals like on North East South West.

The whole show was great–an excellent, if brief set list and the five last songs were stellar: No Known Drink or Drug, Young Hearts Spark Fire, Continuous Thunder (one of my favorites) and the supremely crowd pleasing The Nights of Wine and Roses.

I was really happy to be able to get so close for these songs (again, seeing King play thsese cool chords), because for the last song (which they announced as the last song–11PM curfew and all).

Especially since for the final song, a football team’s worth of very tall guys pushed their way to the front to slam dance and pogo everyone around them.

I wound up surprisingly far back for the last song. It was even more surprising when the lights went out for about a minute of the song (the sound stayed on though).  I think this led to a bit rougher slam dancing, so I was glad to be out of it.

This was all fine, except that after the show, their roadie handed out drumsticks to the meatheads who forced their way up front for the end.

Regardless of where you stand and what or how any songs Japandroids play, they put on a hell of a set.  It is fun, it is sweaty and it demands that you scream.

I’m glad I saw them in a bigger venue, but this was a great, intimate performance.

 

Boot and Saddle (Night 3 of 4) July 26, 2018  Union Transfer February 25, 2017
Near to the Wild Heart of Life * Near to the Wild Heart of Life *
International [new song] Adrenaline Nightshift !
Fire’s Highway ! Fire’s Highway !
Heart Sweats ∅ True Love and a Free Life of Free Will *
True Love and a Free Life of Free Will * North East South West *
Rockers East Vancouver ∅ Younger Us !
Younger Us ! In a Body Like a Grave *
Alice [new song] Wet Hair ∅
North East South West * Arc of Bar *
Wet Hair ∅ The Nights of Wine and Roses !
No Known Drink or Drug * Evil’s Sway !
Young Hearts Spark Fire ∅ Midnight to Morning *
Continuous Thunder ! Continuous Thunder !
The Nights of Wine and Roses ! No Known Drink or Drug *
The House That Heaven Built ! Heart Sweats ∅
Young Hearts Spark Fire ∅
The House That Heaven Built !
(I’m) Stranded (The Saints cover) (with Craig Finn)
  • * = Near To The Wild Heart Of Life (2017)
  • ! = Celebration Rock (2012)
  •  ∅ = Post-Nothing (2009)

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[ATTENDED: February 25, 2017] Mannequin Pussy

I ordered a Japandroids ticket as soon as they went on sale.  The first two nights sold out quickly and then they added a third as I refreshed my email.  So I was able to score a Thursday night ticket,

I had no idea who the opening acts would be.  Later, they announced that these four Philly bands were the openers:

Thin Lips
Hounds
Mannequin Pussy
Queen of Jeans

Of the four, I had only heard of Queen of Jeans.  I have since heard Thin Lips on All Songs Considered.  But I was pretty excited to hear Mannequin Pussy, a band whose name I still don’t understand. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: JAPANDROIDS-Live at Massey Hall (October 4, 2017).

Japandroids are one of the most energetic bands around.  Is that because there are only two of them and they need to do even more?

Well, whatever the case, they rock Massey Hall.

They are playing four nights in a row at Boot & Saddle in Philly in a couple of weeks.  The shows sold out almost instantly, but I got a ticket for the second night.  And this video has gotten me really psyched to see them again.

The show opens with David Prowse, the drummer talking about Massey Hall.  It’s by far the most legendary venue in all of Canada.  There’s a lot of emotion tied up in playing this room–equal parts terrifying and inspiring.  It’s an honor just to be asked to play here.  We couldn’t pass up the opportunity but it’s large boots to fill.

The show opens with Prowse’s very fast snare drums and Brian King eking out feedback from his guitar.

And from there it’s 35 minutes of nonstop energy from both the band and the crowd. The guitars are fast and the drumming in maniacal.   It’s amazing.

What’s so especially interesting to me about this band is that there’s two of them and they don;t rally do guitar solos.  This all seems like a recipe for short songs. But no, most of their songs are about 4 minutes long and live they tend to jam them out a bit, too.

So in this show except you don;t get a lot of songs, but you get a lot of music.

“Near to the wild Heart of Life” plays for nearly five minutes before it is interrupted so Brian can talk about playing Massey Hall and how Toronto has always been good to them.

It’s followed by some great, really exciting versions of these songs: “Fire’s Highway,” “Heart Sweats” and “Younger Us” covering all three of their albums.

Brian thanks then all for coming out and spending a school night with them.

Introducing “North East South West” Brian says, there happens to be a Toronto reference in this song.  Its 10% more fun to play when we play here.  Be sure to sing it out if you know it.  It’s the one glorious moment on tour when we get to hear people in Toronto sing Toronto.

After the song they interview: the participatory nature of our shows makes you feel so connected with a roomful of strangers and we’ve both become quiet addicted to that feeling of connection.  It’s so visceral and it’s a big part of why we tour so much.

Our audience is part of the show.  Their energy is part of the show.  Sometimes it’s just as fun watching the audience as it is watching the band

“No Known Drink or Drug” and “The House Than Heaven Built” end the show in incredible fashion.  There’s even some stage divers (in Massey Hall!) which makes them laugh while singing.

Seeing Brian climb on the bass drum at the end of the set is a great moment.  I’m psyched for next week.

[READ: April 14, 2014] “Rat Beach”

William Styron is a pretty legendary writer, although I have never read him.  I don’t even know what he typically writes about.  This story is about Marines awaiting their next move as they wait on the Shore of Japan in WWII.

The narrator says that if he was a year older he would have been in the Iwo Jima bloodbath. Rather he and his troop were waiting on the island of Saipan.

He says he was “so fucking scared,” but it seemed the others would never let on just how scared they were (he wouldn’t either, of course). (more…)

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2017-02-25-23-47-33[ATTENDED: February 25, 2017] Japandroids

I was mostly excited to see Japandroids because in addition to liking their music, I wanted to see how two guys could be so powerful live.  I’d also heard that their live shows were a ton of fun.  And was it ever.

Interestingly, I had tickets for the Friday night show, which sold out.  But then something more important came up–a father daughter dance.  I was able to get my ticket to someone I work with and he enjoyed Friday night and I was still able to get a ticket for Saturday night.  So everybody won.  There was also some joking from Brian King the guitarist/singer that Friday night was a better crowd–until the Saturday night crowd decided to prove him wrong.  They were also filming on our night, so I wonder if anything will ever come of that.

But back to the show.  When the crew set up their gear, I was surprised to see them putting the drum set literally right in front of me, sideways–facing the guitar.  I knew that he faced that way but didn’t think they put him right a the front of the stage. (more…)

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2017-02-25-21-21-28[ATTENDED: January 31, 2017] Craig Finn

The universe has insisted that I see Craig Finn perform.  Last year he opened for My Morning Jacket, but my friend Jay and I arrived late and missed his whole set.  Well, here was a second chance.

Back then I had assumed that Craig Finn was one of the Finns from Crowded House.  It wasn’t until that MMJ concert that I discovered he was the guy from The Hold Steady, a band I’d never listened to.  I didn’t know much about him beyond that except that his delivery was kind of spoken/sung and there were comparisons to Bruce Springsteen.

I had gotten up pretty close to the stage, and I was surrounded by diehard Finn fans, so I felt like a bit of an imposter.  But he didn’t seem to mind and he played a really enjoyable set.

Given how raucous the Japandroids were he seemed like a bit of an odd match, but he certainly has a punk vibe, even if his songs are not very loud. (more…)

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expedSOUNDTRACK: JAPANDROIDS-Celebration Rock (2012).

japan2So, the cover looks the same and there’s still only two of them and there are also 8 songs and it’s also 35 minutes long.  I guess the Japandroids second album is going to be more of the same.  Well, yes and no.

Their debut was a surprise success (which actually prevented them from breaking up) and they seem to take the successes of that album–big choruses and sing along sections to even more glorious heights.  The songs are still poppy and super catchy and they’ve removed some of the noise that was on the first album.  Of course at the heart of the album is still two guys playing kinda sloppy, poppy punk with loudly yelled lyrics–not exactly a formula for pop success, but not too far away from it either.

The disc is pretty unmistakably from the Japandroids–the duo is still loud and fast with distorted guitars and vocals.  But there is a lot more melody here.  The guitar riff that opens the album on “The Nights of Wine and Rose” is simple, but it sounds like a new edge for the band.  “Fire’s Highway” has a guitar sound not unlike Tom Petty until again the propulsive drums (and guitar) follows along.  But there’s a lot more space to breathe on this song–it takes some of the punk edge off (although again the chorus is fast) and those backing Oh ohs bring it to a catchy conclusion).  And check out the “Oh Yeah, Alright” section of  “Evils’s Sway,” another Tom Pettyish nod to major catchiness.

“For the Love of Ivy” is a cover and it very distinctly does not sound like a Japandroids song (which sounds obvious, and yet it’s fascinating that it fits with the album but doesn’t sound like anything else they’ve done).  It’s followed by “Adrealine Nightshift” a song that adds a kind of classic rock anthemic feel–a very different kind of anthemic feel than the other songs–to the mix.  “Younger Us” is a powerful rocker that gets more and more chaotic as it goes along–but it starts from such a poppy place that it’s a great ride to take.  “The House That Heaven Built” has a kind of Arcade Fire feel to it (ironic given the disparity of band members), but it’s got that same big vibe and lots of oh oh oh ohs.  The guitars start fast and don’t let up.

The final track, “Continuous Thunder” sounds like a slightly different band–the vocals are cleaner and the drums are more martial and less frenetic–although the guitar is still continuous and by the end the pace is simply breakneck.

So yes, this is a poppier version of their debut (and a successful one at that).  If one still cared about bands selling out one might suggest that that’s what’s happening here, but it’s still a far cry from a pop album.

[READ: February 11, 2013] The Expeditioners and the Treasure of Drowned Man’s Canyon

This is the first book in the McSweeney’s McMullens collection that is written for young adults.  And while the writing isn’t perfect (there were a number of sentences that I found a little awkward), the story is wonderful and very captivating.

The book is set in a parallel universe or a distant dystopian future.  The protagonists live in a borderline-wilderness state.  There is little money for food, there is no electricity and no modern technology.  But the big difference in this book is that there are places that have yet to be explored.  New worlds, new territories that are not on the map.  So it must be a new world?  No, because the protagonists venture to Philadelphia and Arizona.  So, perhaps this is set way in the future after the deterioration, when maps proved to be unreliable?  It’s never exactly explained, and does it really matter?  No, not really.

The protagonists are three kids: Zander, the oldest , M.K., the youngest and only girl who is a whiz with tools and tinkering and Kit, the middle child and narrator.  Kit is the smart one, able to read his father’s maps and make smart decisions based on given information.  Their mother is long gone (mothers always fair so poorly in adventure stories) and their father has recently disappeared.  He was on an exploratory mission and has been reported killed.

However, government officials did not approve of their father’s recent actions and had him stripped of his ranking as an explorer (could they be fabricating his death as well?  Or at least the cause of his death?  With the government acting in a very dictatorial fashion, anything is possible, especially since they have eyes everywhere.

The story gets underway when Kit, who is out buying food at the market  is grabbed by a tattooed man.  The man knows who Kit is and presses a book on him, saying his father wanted him to have it.  He tells Kit to be careful and runs off.  Kit puts the book in his backpack and heads home, with his mind reeling.

When he gets home, government officials are at their house.  The kids are lucky–since they are technically orphans, they should be removed from their home, but for some reason, the government has not taken them away yet.  But they ask if Kit or any of them has been approached by a man with a tattoo.  Kit lies, and the men eventually leave.

This sets in motion a series of events that lead the kids to realize that their father has half of a map of Drowned Man’s Canyon in Arizona.  The kids believe that their father wants them to find the treasure there.  But how could they possibly find it?  They can’t travel unnoticed, they have practically no money and they’re not even really sure what they are looking for.  Well, that is the story, now isn’t it? (more…)

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