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Japandroids at the Triple Rock, 12/14/12

Japandroids at Triple Rock on Saturday night
Japandroids at Triple Rock on Saturday night
Photo By Erik Hess

Japandroids
With Birthday Suits
Triple Rock Social Club, Minneapolis
Friday, December 14, 2012

Heading into the first of two sold-out shows by the Japandroids at the Triple Rock, it was uncertain just how well the joyous, celebratory live show of the Canadian duo would go over on a night where everyone in the crowd was collectively heartbroken by the tragic news coming out of Newtown, Connecticut earlier in the day. But it turned out that this live performance was just the type of catharsis that everyone in the audience needed, as we all yelled like hell to the heavens during the Japandroids' fiery 100-minute set that solidified their status as one of the best live acts going today.

See Also:
Japandroids' David Prowse on Celebration Rock, songwriting struggles
Japandroids at 7th Street Entry, 7/03/12

It's always an encouraging sign when a band sets up their own gear, and while guitarist Brian King and drummer David Prowse got their equipment arranged, they were already forging a playful connection with their fans who packed the club for the show. In fact, King could be seen playing air guitar and singing right along to the pre-show music featuring Bob Seger's "Night Moves." As the group eventually took to the stage, Brian even joked that they had to wait until the song was finished before they could start. "If you don't know the song, don't worry, you're young. You'll play it at your wedding someday."

King continued engaging with the crowd as they both got settled in, "It's Friday night and I expect mayhem. This is the first of our two-night circus in Minneapolis, let's rock the fuck out and I'll see you on the other side." And with that, the duo launched into a prolonged intro to "Adrenaline Nightshift," which King claimed was "A good warm up song to get everyone's blood flowing." And indeed it did seem that the crowd needed to be eased into the night a bit, before the churning "Fire's Highway" and a truly blistering version of "Art Czars" provided all of us with the release we were looking for, and one which would continue throughout the rest of the spirited set.

Japandroids at the Triple Rock, 12/14/12
Japandroids at the Triple Rock, 12/14/12
Photos By Erik Hess

King introduced a feisty run through of "The Boys Are Leaving Town" by endearingly saying, "This song is kind of the story of our lives," as multi-colored lights and strobes lit up the band strikingly as the song kicked in. "All right, it's time to take it to the next level," King exclaimed. "It's time to get in so deep that you don't know which way is up." And the absolutely ripping and on fire rendition of "The Nights of Wine and Roses" that followed indeed washed over all of us like a tempestuous tidal wave, as Japandroids' swelling ocean of noise tossed us all around euphorically.

Prowse took over lead vocals during a lively version of "Rockers East Vancouver," which allowed King to emphatically wail away on his guitar, bounding around the stage completely lost in the moment, before eventually sitting down on David's bass drum as the duo drew the song fitfully to a close. "This song is one of our most popular jams," said King before a jubilant rendition of "Younger Us." But he said most people get the meaning of the number wrong. "It's about drawing on you past experiences and celebrating it, not lamenting it." And the high-octane track certainly caused us all to blissfully revel in the moment, however fleeting it might be.

"Let's keep the positive vibes going," King instructed, before the band launched into the relentless, thunderous rhythm of "Heart Sweats" that proved to be one of the night's many highlights. King was feeling it too, as he then told us, "I'm going to do something completely unorthodox, and if it fails then I won't do it again tomorrow night." And with that, he launched himself deep into the crowd, who passed him around a bit before returning him safely to the stage to tear through a glorious version of "Wet Hair," which caused Brian to declare, "All right, now we're fucking cooking."

Japandroids at the Triple Rock, 12/14/12
Japandroids at the Triple Rock, 12/14/12
Photos By Erik Hess

King, whose playful banter colored the entire set, then joked, "Speaking of positive vibes--this song has a drum solo in it, and if that's not fucking positive then I don't know what fucking is" before Prowse led the way on a roiling rendition of "Evil's Sway." The band even dusted off their fierce cover of Mclusky's "To Hell With Good Intentions," which was featured on Japandroids' 2007 debut EP, All Lies. "This is our hit single, quote, unquote," King then teased. "If you know the words, sing along. This is super fun." And most of the crowd did join in on a truly celebratory version of "The House That Heaven Built," which elevated everyone in the crowd above the darkness of the day.

An affectionate take on "Crazy/Forever" blended fluidly into a slow-burning version of "Sovereignty," which found King encouraging the crowd to get even more crazy than they were. "Continuous Thunder" slowed things down just a touch, complete with a tantalizing tease of the riff to "Night Moves" by King at the start, allowing us all to catch our breath before the last two blazing songs of the night. "This is only the second time in our hundreds of shows that we've done a two-night stand," King told us as he instructed everyone towards the back to come down to the floor. "We're going to make these last two songs so fucking epic that I tell everyone tomorrow night that 'Y'all should have been here last night.'"

 

Japandroids at the Triple Rock, 12/14/12
Photo By Erik Hess

King then did another triumphant stage dive, before returning to the stage to introduce the next song. "The next two songs are dedicated to all you people up front. This is called 'Young Hearts Spark Fire.' Let's get wild baby." The exultant song took on an added weight and significance due to the devastating news from Newtown earlier in the day, and the jubilant chorus of "I don't want to worry about dying" really had an added resonance for all of us who were just trying to forget about our cares for a brief moment.

After an enthusiastic, but respectful, response from the crowd, Prowse teased, "You guys have been so polite. I admire that honesty, it's a Midwestern trait." King brought the night to a close with one last intro, "This is our last jam of the night, so it's your last chance to dance. Please get home safe so we can see you next time." The band then put a jubilant exclamation point on the night with their set closing cover of the Gun Club's "For The Love Of Ivy," which King playfully tagged with a guitar riff from the Smashing Pumpkins' "Bullet With Butterfly Wings," causing Prowse to laugh as he tried to keep time. It was a spirited way to close an evening that provided everyone, band and fans included, with the type of cathartic release that only rock 'n' roll can bring.

Critic's Notebook:

Personal Bias: I've been a massive fan of Japandroids since I first saw them at the Pitchfork Festival in 2009. They just keep getting better each and every time that I see them.

The Crowd: Filled with plenty of fans who were drinking their cares away.

Overheard In The Crowd: The audience really did have polite things to say to the band between songs, including a teasing "Pretty good" after the truly exceptional rendition of "The Nights Of Wine And Roses."

Random Notebook Dump: After DIIV dropped out as the opening act for these shows so that they could play Letterman, a couple of talented local two-pieces stepped up to fill the bills out nicely. Birthday Suits delivered an explosive, punkish 20-minute set on Friday night, while Bloodnstuff opened on Saturday, showing everyone that Canada doesn't have the market cornered on dynamic musical duos.

Setlist:

Adrenaline Nightshift

Fire's Highway

Art Czars

The Boys Are Leaving Town

The Nights Of Wine And Roses

Rockers East Vancouver

Younger Us

Heart Sweats

Wet Hair

Evil's Sway

To Hell With Good Intentions (Mclusky cover)

The House That Heaven Built

Crazy/Forever

Sovereignty

Continuous Thunder

Young Hearts Spark Fire

For The Love Of Ivy (The Gun Club Cover)



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