Monday, November 26, 2012

REVIEW: Japandroids, Swearin’ Nov. 20 at the Firebird

Three years after Vancouver, BC’s Japandroids arrived to pummel  the Billiken Club, the duo of guitarist/lead vox Brian King and drummer/vox David Prowse returned to St. Louis to burn down the Firebird.

I walked through the front door and into a dark, milky fog that made it impossible to see more than five feet in any direction. I could just make out the audience: several couples, a father and daughter team, but mostly men in that familiar 18-28 range. The thick air was hotter than Satan’s taint and humid as Florida swampland…which was actually a welcome respite from the fall chill of St. Louis waiting just outside the door.

Japandroids brought along Brooklyn/Pittsburgh pop-punk outfit Swearin’ as their openers. The four piece strolled on stage well after their supposed start time, but whatever—no one in the audience seemed to care about the wait. They kicked off with “What a Dump,” from their 2011 cassette with the same name and, as one might hope from a pair of singers who also date, Allison Crutchfield and Kyle Gilbride share vocal and guitar duties well together. It was apparent Crutchfield is more reserved than Gilbride (who resembles Ben Folds in all aspects of attire and physical traits), but she bites, too. “Kenosha,” off 2012’s self-titled LP, is a damned good kiss-off to an ex-lover, and Crutchfield brought the right brass to the refrain, “I hope you like Kenosha so much you stay there.” I feel you, girl.

Gilbride sings in a bratty tone that never turns cacophonous. He sounds like a lovable little brother who insists on tagging along as the older kids roam the town. The two singers work in dissimilar tones and keys from one another, so their back-and-forth lead vocals propelled their double-digit opening set along swiftly—I'll be damned if it wasn't the swiftest 40 minutes I've ever experienced.

Japandroids' Brian King soundchecked with that signature Canadian vernacular: “EH, EH, EH, EH!” he hollered into the mic. The pretty redhead-in-a-bottle next to me took pictures of King with her phone. “I’ve got to get a picture of that face!,” she said breathlessly. Indeed, King looked like a dapper Highness of Rock N’ Roll Frivolity with his white button-down and flattering black jeans. But it was his stage banter, improvised when Prowse busted his kick pedal before the band even got through their first song, that won the night: he told jokes. JOKES. “Why don’t hipsters make good lovers?" he asked the crowd. "They lost their seven inches.” “Why don’t lobsters share? ...They’re shellfish.” Bless his charming, charming soul.

Pedal fixed, and King having stolen the hearts of everyone hot-blooded female in the room, Japandroids got wild—as promised. They hurled themselves into “Adrenaline Nightshift,” King’s veins raised and visible in his taut forearms, and Prowse endangering every nerve leading to his cranium with his violent head thrashing.

Japandroids went feral. King threw his “you”s to the crowd during “Art Czars,” pointing at a different face with every pronoun. The guitar riff from “Hearts Sweat” (from 2009’s Post-Nothing) somersaulted over Prowse’s sinuous drumwork and sounded dangerous, like thunder in a black sky. Prowse's strong voice led “Rockers East Vancouver," and King kept his promise to "dance my fucking ass off!" Mosh pits stormed and passed during the 17-song set. "This is a fucking jam, if you know what I mean," said King by way of introducing their version of Mclusky's "To Hell with Good Intentions." He challenged the crowd to “keep up,” but no one could match King’s frenetics. Didn't stop us trying though, and the whole night felt like a late-entry highlight of the year. When King asked if they wanted “two or three” more songs, every hand was raised with four to ten fingers raised.

Adrenaline Nightshift
Fire’s Highway
Art Czar’s
The Boys Are Leaving Town
The Nights of Wine and Roses
Rockers East Vancouver
Younger Us
Heart Sweats
Wet Hair
Evil’s Sway
The House That Heaven Built
Continuous Thunder
To Hell With Good Intentions (Mclusky cover)
Young Hearts Spark Fire
For the Love of Ivy (Gun Club cover)

No comments:

Post a Comment