I’m a bit of an asshole cynic when it comes to Canadian bands. Not because of Nickelback or anything—Nickelback rules!—but because I come from a city that Spin magazine relegated to such atrocious proportions of indie-rock status that it turned the idea of that genre coupled with my nationality into a fucking commoditised joke. Sometimes I have to remind myself that a lot of this praise is warranted. Sometimes I don’t even have to try, like when I’ve been listening to Japandroids’ latest album ‘Celebration Rock’ these past few weeks and loving it to bits. So I was super pumped for this gig.
We got to Gaukurinn and found it pretty sparsely crowded, which surprisingly didn’t change much through the evening. Openers Sudden Weather Change started pretty late and played for a good half hour. They were really solid and on point, mostly playing stuff from their new album. Their music sounds more energetic than ever and they’re obviously trying to beef it up. As much as I like this group, it didn’t really feel like the best choice for the opening act even though it seemed like they were trying to up the “rock” factor in their set.
Japandroids came on promptly after SWC and gave the nicest of nice introductions, the kind that Canadians have running through our veins like Molson and maple syrup. It made me gosh darn proud. They seemed pretty blown away by the turn out, even though you could have picked any spot at any point through the night. I, however, chose to stay all the way at the back in the depths of darkness since I had a horrible cold – sorry if you caught it! But they’ve been on a world tour where some gigs have had a grand total of ten in the audience, so fair enough. Then they launched head-first into one of their best songs, “The Boys Are Leaving Town.” Shit was on.
It was unbelievable how full and intense the sound was coming from this Springsteenian-punk duet. Their energy didn’t drop at all throughout their hour-long set and felt incredibly powerful, even from the very back of the room. The crowd’s energy was great too, with a couple of folks up at the front showing off how big fans they were, climbing onstage and rocking out extra hard. The show reached its climax with their big hit off their new album “The House That Heaven Built,” chock-full of sing-along whoa-oh-ohs and super frenetic drumming, and was the tightest sounding song they played off their second album.
The crowd cooled down out right after, presumably a case of people who had just come for that song and had to get to work on Thursday morning, or had also hit their rock-out threshold. Their music is really high-octane and anthemic and almost everything they played was a fast one. They only slowed down once to play one of my absolute favourites, “Continuous Thunder,” which might be on every single road trip playlists I make from now until the end of time.
They closed with a seven-minute cover of a weirdo L.A. punk band whose name I didn’t quite catch but reminded me of The Descendants, full of drum fills and crazy guitar riffing. The whole show was great, although honestly, it was just a bit too long given how high energy it all was. There’s a reason they only have eight songs on each album!
Japandroids played at Gamli Gaukurinnon August 22. For more about them visit www.japandroids.com.
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