7th St. Entry
July 7, 2012
When a touring band starts their set by saying, “It feels like we’re back home, Minneapolis”, the natural instinct is to go Okay, yeah sure buddy— I bet you said the same thing last night in Chicago/Milwaukee/Madison/Detroit/somewhere in Canada/etc. But when Japandroids lead singer and guitar player Brian King said it to a sell-out crowd Tuesday night, the eager, packed-in audience opted to believe him. Minneapolis, for all of our shameless self-loving scenesterism, can be a fussy crowd; often times offering our lesser-known hometown bands nothing but folded arms and blank stares. That being said, we tend to treat out-of-towners—at least those with a good amount of buzz—really, really well. So it comes without surprise that Japandroids, who are in heavy rotation locally on both 89.3 The Current and 770 AM Radio K, were welcomed with open arms.
Personally I was hesitant to believe the hype surrounding the Vancouver-based guitar and drums duo when their first album Post-Nothing was released in ’09, and admittedly, not for any justifiable reason. Basically I wanted to hate them because I was already a Japanther fan, and these guys—being a another two man band with “Japan” in their name, who played punk-informed anthemic indie rock—were seemingly more popular and thus were a threat to my self-created DIY-loving-cool-guy world. After all, we Twin Cityans had already dealt with a similar situation a couple of times: First, at the height of the early ’00 garage rock revival an Australian band calling themselves The D4 started making the press rounds, while our beloved bar punkers the Dillinger Four, who are affectionately referred to as D4, who had been killing it for years, went largely unnoticed outside of the smallish punk world. Then, a few years later, the indie-rock universe was going bananas for Vampire Weekend, while our very own Vampire Hands had been creating far more original and better music and for quite a bit longer but without the attention of Spin Magazine and Pitchfork. So, while Japanther was not a TC band, as a fan of them, all the attention ‘droids was getting upset me just the same. Then one day, seconds away from murdering the Internet because it wouldn’t shut up about Japandroids, for some strange reason—almost as if I was being controlled by a mind not my own—I went out and bought Post-Nothing. I’ve been hooked on them ever since; snatching up their collection of old EPs No Singles in ‘10, and of course, the new album a few weeks ago. In retrospect it was quite silly to try and dismiss a band—even without hearing them—based on the fact that they have a similar name and makeup of another band I already liked.
So, on the last night of their American tour, Japandroids landed at the legendary 7th Street Entry in downtown Minneapolis (where the Replacements once played five nights in a row in October of ’85 and where Atmosphere did an eight night stand twenty years later) to blow off some steam before the long, show-less drive back to Vancouver. Despite the hellish temperatures (a heat index up around 107 degrees Fahrenheit) King and drummer David Prowse played as if it had nothing left to lose; like they literally did live here and could just go home and pass out after the show. They frantically and sometimes sloppily, bashed through every track from their outstanding new record Celebration Rock. The songs that seemed to garner the most crowd participation were the lead-off single “The House That Heaven Built”; with its overabundance of ooh-ooh-ooh sing-a-long parts, the youthful drinking anthem “Younger Us”, and the album opener “The Nights Of Wine and Roses”; which was preceded by King urging everyone to check out The Dream Syndicate album by the same name, saying that the creation of Celebration Rock was influenced heavily by it. The set was rounded out with select gems from Post-Nothing such as “Young Hearts Spark Fire”, “Wet Hair” and one of my personal favorites, “Sovereignty.” It was an oddly touching few minutes, as the Minneapolis crowd, who has its own love/hate relationship with finicky weather, proudly sang along to the PNW anthem: “It’s raining in Vancouver, but I don’t give a fuck.”
Of interest was how, even though it was an 18+ show, the majority of the audience seemed to be in their late 20s to even early 40s. (No doubt, a result of the Current’s affect on the local music scene—it’s undeniable, indie rock crowds have gotten older here since they debuted on-air in ‘05. It’s something that is quite heartwarming to see actually.) Near the end of the set they played the final song off of Celebration Rock, “Continuous Thunder.” Despite the band’s apologetic nature for playing “a slow one” it was near-perfect moment, as the lyrics, centered around lost love, resonated well with the us older attendees that may have a bit more life experience under our belts in that department.
The final song of the encore-less performance was a lengthy, raucous version of a Gun Club cover, “For the Love of Ivy”, in which it looked at times like the band might go into instrument-smashing mode. They didn’t however, which was kind of disappointing, but they did look completely spent, as if they gave it everything that had left in them. And that alone was completely satisfying. Besides, everyone else down on the floor looked just as exhausted. But we actually got to go home and pass out afterwards. Godspeed Japandroids!
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