In my previous port of gainful employment, I served as publicist for U2. Amongst the deluge of lies I would use to hawk their music, would be the term, “a wall of guitars”. There was no wall, just reverb-soaked-dishonesty from The Edge.
Which in a roundabout way brings us to Japandroids. Two regular dudes from Canada, playing in a sweaty, East London basement. Brian King on guitar, lead vocals and purveyor of extraordinarily 'snug' trousers and his drummer and occasional backing shouter, Dave King.
Opening with "The Boys Are Leaving Town" from 2009’s Post-Nothing album, the room erupts into a beer-drenched, heaving mass of delirium that collectively fist pumps for the duration. As sweat begins to drip from the ceiling, the band road test a bunch of new tracks from their forthcoming LP. New single, "The House That Heaven Built" with it's, “Whoa, ooh, ooh” chorus demonstrates the balls-out simplicity that Japandroids do so well. There’s no music revolution going on here, but from the increasing rabid response from the mob out front, there doesn’t really need to be. Both Brian and Dave play tonight’s show with a military intensity, but it’s all about beer soaked hedonism and throwing your friends head first into the stage, not stand-at-the-back-chin-strokery. In other words, FUN.
Penultimate track, "Young Hearts Spark Fire" is the band’s victorious calling card and though no actual fires are reported, the smell of bromance is strong in the air, as the audience turn to crowd surfing putty in Brian and Dave’s hands. After five hours of solid drinking in this sweatfest, the song’s key line, “I don’t worry about dying, I just wanna worry sunshine girls”, becomes the most profound couplet in music ever.
On the bus home later, the only legible sentence I can read from my gig notes is, “Peter Gabriel dials bury hill steroids. Wall of guitars”. Which even in the sobriety of the morning after, made total sense. Take THAT U2.
For more of Yusuf's photography go here.
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