Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Japandroids, Love is All, Girlfriends Live at the Middle East Downstairs 3/31/10

Both drummer David Prowse's kit and guitarist Brian King's microphone were tucked into the corners of the Middle East Downstairs. Center stage belonged to the three biggest fender amps known to man, gleaming like a silver event horizon. When the duo took the stage only one thing was certain: something was probably going to spontaneously burst into flames.

King immediately began conjuring fond drunken memories of past Boston shows. Throughout their set, he kept complimenting the place so profusely that you could actually believe he didn't say it in every city.

The concert had a solid line up, opened by the local noise enthusiasts: Girlfriends. The trio's riotously goofy tunes like the live only "Cave Kids of Boston" were a fitting pair with the Droids. The second band, Love is All was a five piece ethereal pop band with some crazy, eerie, tremolo picked guitar and a little saxophone. The female lead in a beige windbreaker and shaking a blue toy maraca when she wasn't jamming on her little Casio keyboard covered with patches of red gig tape.

Even though Japandroids is just drums and guitar, it never got boring. The simplicity works; unburdened, catchy as hell and kept interesting by King's furious melodic guitar playing. He shouted into the red windscreen on his mic, his dangling, moppy hair that was dripping with sweat being blown from his face by a large fan at his feet. When he wasn't singing he thrashed about stage, occasionally jumping up to balance on Prowse's bass drum. Some live tunes like 'The Boys are Leaving Town' had an intensity and vitality that just can't be captured on a recording in a studio.

The Japandroids' sound was refreshingly invigorating and had the crowd doing the only bastardized version of moshing that the Middle East allows, also known as 'pointless pushing.' On 'Young Hearts Spark Fire,' Prowse's backing vocals were joined by a cacophony of the crowd's yelling the "Oh yeah, oh yeah!" that was meant for a large chorus of voices. Towards the end of their set, the band played their only down-tempo song, 'I Quit Girls;' giving the crowd a chance to slow dance. The muted harmonics in that song are some kind of sonic addiction.

The duo's last tune was a McLusky cover, 'To Hell with Good Attentions.' But for everyone at the Middle East Downstairs that night, the song was called, 'To Hell with Every Other City in America, Except for Boston."





Photography by Lee Stepien

Published in Performer Magazine, May 2010 issue.

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