Japandroids! This is a band that I begrudgingly adore! I heard about them from multiple people a while ago, and slowly started to listen to them, then bought their album. And with each listen I found myself grinning more often and enjoying myself more. Such fun! Such cheese! I sometimes pretend to be too old and embittered — and too into experimental, cerebral music — to love this goofy, joyful, noise/pop/emo duo, but I just can’t resist.
These are two young Vancouverites rocking out in the tradition of ’90s emo and ’00s noise pop, with their hearts apparently on their sleeves. They’re not embarrassed to sing terrible lyrics about French kissing French girls, and staying crazy forever. Their joie de vivre reminds me a little of early Minus the Bear — also fans of unabashed, enthusiastic songs about girls; their sincere awkward lyrics remind me of the Promise Ring who sang songs “from Bell South unto a southern belle.”
So yeah I kind of love these dudes. I was excited to go see them at the Rock and Roll Hotel, though it was a late-ish Monday night and it was hard to get all that pumped up after a busy weekend and most of a full work week ahead.
Openers Love Is All were ok. They seemed a little too energetic for a Monday night. They had a saxophone and a lot of random shouting and manic commotion. It reminded me of The B-52s or maybe Super Furry Animals. They had bad lyrics too but they got a pass for being Swedish. The girl singer reminded me of the singer from Fight Like Apes. Anyway I thought they were ok but I wasn’t really in the mood. They could impress me under other circumstances, perhaps. But I really just wanted to see the ‘droids.
And Japandroids did not disappoint. Ok, maybe I had hyped them up a little too much in my mind and was a little let down by the guitar tone (it seemed too quiet and too clean). And maybe I hate the Rock and Roll Hotel as a venue (I was pretty far back from the stage and you can’t see anything if you are more than 5 rows from the front). But those are minor quibbles. Fun times!
Here’s “The Boys Are Leaving Town”:
The guitarist — I guess I should call him Brian, since he introduced himself and Dave repeatedly — seemed pretty jazzed about the whole night, or at least he faked it convincingly, running all around, chatting with the crowd, playing stoopid fun riffs. The two of them played well off of one another and reminded me of a pop version of Lightning Bolt. The duo dynamic is pretty popular in indie music these days but I don’t think it works terribly often. Japandroids pulled it off.
Occasionally I was reminded of music unexpectedly during their set: here a Smashing Pumpkins vibe, there a Dead Meadow riff. But mostly it was what I expected: fun and basic pop.
Here’s “Young Hearts Spark Fire” with its irresistible “whooooahhh”s:
Sometimes it is thrilling to just enjoy simple pleasures and pop songs. This seems to be the Japandroids manifesto, as they sing in the song above — “I don’t wanna worry about dying, I just wanna worry about those sunshine girls.” Awesome philosophy.
“Rockers East Vancouver”:
They played pretty much all of their songs off of Post-Nothing, including my favorite, “Sovereignty.” And they played a couple other songs that were older, and ended the set with a cover of mcclusky‘s “To Hell With Good Intentions.” Brian introduced that one by claiming they only played it at the end of great shows, and that it wasn’t as good as the original. He was right about both — it wasn’t even half as good as the original, but it was a great show.