Say what you will about Japandroids—by the end of one of their concerts, it’s clear they don’t have anything left in the tank. Tonight the Vancouver duo of Brian King and David Prowse (not the actor) passed on providing an encore in favor of pulling out all the stops during their show, and clearly they didn’t leave anything in reserve. Guitarist and singer King said at the beginning of their set, this would be the last time they would play Chicago for a while, and their only guiding principle for tonight’s show at Metro was to play without rules.
Thus they played with even more abandon than they’re known for, with King sprinting and jumping, and Prowse pummeling the skins and cymbals, and leading the jam-packed sold-out crowd through their frenzied punk-inspired “whoa-whoa” choruses.
As they put it in their self-penned bio on their label’s website, “Japandroids are maximal—a two-piece band trying to sound like it’s a five-piece band,” and it’s amazing how much sound they make with one guitar and one drum set. It’s also astounding how much effervescent energy they radiate from the stage, even after almost 90 minutes of sweat-saturated activity.
A 90-minute set from Japandroids is all that more impressive given that the band is still touring behind their second full-length record, 2012’s Celebration Rock. Aside from that release, the set tonight featured plenty of songs from their 2009 debut, the critically acclaimed debut Post-Nothing and a number of songs released as 7-inch singles, one of which they’re selling exclusively on tour, especially for the fans.
Highlights of their set included “Wet Hair,” “The Boys Are Leaving Town” and “Young Hearts Spark Fire” from Post-Nothing and “Continuous Thunder,” “The Nights of Wine and Roses” and “The House that Heaven Built” from Celebration Rock. In a nod to the importance of the band in their hometown and the critical acclaim of the latter single, it’s now the official entrance theme song of the Vancouver Canucks hockey team.
The climax of the show occurred when King, wielding his white electric guitar accented by fluorescent duct tape, climbed on top of Prowse’s drum kit, and played the opening chords to Metallica’s “Enter Sandman,” no doubt inspired by having played with them at the Orion Music Festival in Detroit the previous weekend. That interlude didn’t last long of course, as King vaulted off the drum set and back into their penultimate number of the evening.
It may have been 75 degrees outside, but on this hot and humid night it felt more like 90 degrees inside the sweat soaked walls of Metro.
From the back of the house it was easy to gauge the crowd’s enthusiasm as they jostled and jockeyed for position to see the stage acrobatics and clap along with Prowse’s rapid-fire rhythms throughout the night. Noted for their volume, hearing was no issue—even some in the back were smart enough to pack earplugs.
Openers Crocodiles from San Diego never disappoint live, and they put on a stellar set. They debuted new material in anticipation of their fourth full-length album, Crimes of Passion, recorded with the help of Sune Rose Wagner of The Raveonettes.
Highlights of their set included prominent harmonies provided by their new drummer, a third of the way into their set lead singer Brandon Welchez picked up a rhythm guitar of his own and their lead guitarist, Charles Rowell already sporting a coon skin cap and a Misfits t-shirt, thankfully threw off his leopard printed vest.
They channeled the ghostly Nuggets of decades past on the first single from the new record on “Cockroach” and led the crowd through a powerful version of The Soft Boys’ “I Wanna Destroy You”—when an opener includes a cover in their set, that’s another sign they come equipped with big brass ones.