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Concert Sun Sep 25 2011

Review: Japandroids @ Schubas, 9/23/11

[This review comes to us from writer Kyle Sparks.]

It's an awkward time to see Japandroids. It's been two years since the two-piece garage-rock group from Vancouver, British Columbia, dropped their debut LP, Post-Nothing, and we've heard nothing but a trio of 7" records last year to remind us that they even exist. Their forthcoming record is all but done, but nobody's heard any part of it. So the entire atmosphere behind their show at Schubas Friday night was a collective state of bated breath for what comes next.

That's a pretty complicated question for Japandroids, because it would seem that immaturity is a cornerstone of their success. Post-Nothing was a brilliant concoction of pop songs teeming with youthful vigor, and perhaps the best way of describing Japandroids to the uninitiated is "boyish." Brian King and David Prowse are like two energetic puppies, incapable of sitting still long enough not to play extra-rowdy renditions of their inspired rock 'n' roll gems. For roughly an hour, the duo ran through the majority of their catalog like there was nothing else in the entire world that mattered near as much. There's hardly a person at a Japandroids show who enjoys their set more than they do, though there were those who came close. The onslaught made a lot of middle-aged concertgoers get rowdy like they were kids again, and made this 22-year-old think twice about his plans to go straight home after the show.

The necessary and forgivable evil in shows like this are the imperfections of a band playing over their heads, but King's humility was almost too much at times. Both King's and Prowse's voices were noticeably strained after a month of hard touring, which would have been a lot less noteworthy had King spent a little less time apologizing for it. King also felt obliged to apologize for the handful of new songs littered into the set, as if anyone there wanted to hear anything more. In closing the night with a cover of the Gun Club's "For the Love of Ivy," King made clear that he thought it was the best song of their whole set. And before tumbling into the terrific "Young Hearts Spark Fire," he pleaded anyone in the audience to help his vocal chords by singing along, "If you know the words;" as if there was a single song in all of 2009 that any of us listened to more.

But the real question with Japandroids is how sustainable this shtick really is. For all their adolescent veracity, there comes a point in everyone's life when he/she needs to grow up, get a job (hopefully) and move on. Japandroids struck gold with Post-Nothing, but they can't exist in a vacuum forever.

However, Friday night served as a clear reminder that there's a reason Japandroids are so far ahead of their rambunctious garage-rock contemporaries--they kind of already have. As immediate and pressing as songs like "The Boys Are Leaving Town" and "Rockers East Vancouver" are, songs like "Young Hearts Spark Fire" and "Younger Us" capture something even more powerful and lasting. The most potent aspect of youth is our memories of it, and Japandroids' biggest strength now is their ability to recreate memories with unparalleled clarity and poignancy. They don't just ask the question, "Remember when?" but instead paint portraits of our fondest scenes with edges as sharp as their hooks. Who knows if these portraits are honest portrayals or just fabrications of a universal predisposition to what Michael Chabon once coined the aetataureate delusion--it doesn't matter. The point is that yes, I remember very well; and wasn't that the best ever?

-Kyle Sparks

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Feature Thu Dec 31 2015

Our Final Transmission Days

By The Gapers Block Transmission Staff

Transmission staffers share their most cherished memories and moments while writing for Gapers Block.

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