Friday, April 09, 2010

Japandroids, Love Is All, The Two Koreas @ Horseshoe Tavern, Toronto (April 3, 2010)

Japandroids: photo by Michael Ligon
  Japandroids: photo by Michael Ligon

Last Saturday night at the Horseshoe Tavern presented a triple-bill that musically varied from artist to artist(from local post-punk outfit The Two Koreas, to Swedish skronk-pop group Love Is All, and Vancouver indie-punk guitar-drums duo Japandroids) On the other, what the bands had in common, were energy, although the opening bands couldn't surpass the intensity of the audience response during Japandroid's set. Two words - body surfing.

Although I'd arrived during The Two Koreas set partway I'd imagine there wouldn't have been much difference had I arrived right at the start. The Toronto outfit don't stray very far from their influences, most obviously The Fall especially in lead vocalist Stuart Berman's Mark E. Smith sing-speak. Musically, they achieve an urgent post-punk racket with solid drumming, steady bass rhythmns, and alternately wiry and brashy guitar playing. But for the number of times I've seen the band through the years, while I do enjoy the band on one level, there's an element of diminishing returns - like listening to Stereolab(who I like alot) who with each successive album seem less and less to surprise me.

It was Sweden's Love Is All who were the main draw of the night for me. It was strange to see Love Is All not playing as headliners as they did at the same venue in December 2008. It seemed barely half an hour that the band ended up playing but within that time the music felt even more deliriously energetic than ever. Pint-sized vocalist Josephine Olausson singing was bright and enthusiastic, frequently on keyboard but occasionally tapping out some rhythms on a cowbell. The band on bass, guitar, drums and sax, were in good spirits and played energetically. It's funny that while there was a certain enthusiasm within the crowd, there was also a level of restraint that was a little disappointing. The band is currently promoting their newest album "Two Thousand And Ten Injuries" out through Polyvinyl which(from the songs I've heard) don't nearly match the brilliance of their debut album "Nine Times That Same Song" or the satisfaction of 2008's "A Hundred Things Keep Me Up At Night" but I'll definitely give it a chance.

Headlining the night was I(Heart)Music Poll fourth hottest band in Canada of 2009, Vancouver guitar/drums duo Japandroids consisting of guitarist/vocalist Brian King and drummer/vocalist David Prowse. The fan set up adjacent to vocalist Brian King wasn't likely just for effect (although the wind did cast a cool effect upon Brian's shaggy locks) as the band's set (or more accurately the audience) collapsed into pure chaos, broken beer bottles on the floor, body surfing and all. Initially, I'd been near the front(with camera in hand) but soon head to fall back(then later towards the left side but closer to the stage). Rare do I see body surfing at the 'Shoe but the mosh pit was intense as one could get in the confines of the venue and the body surfing was persistent. Although this wasn't an all-ages show, it felt like one, and I imagined the mostly-young twenty-somethings thinking as they moshed and body-surfed, adulthood's a drag. Enjoy your youth. Signed to Polyvinyl in 2009 with their debut full-length "Post-Nothing" released that year(released in Canada through Unfamiliar Records), the band will be releasing in May an EP's compilation entitled "No Singles".

Photos: Japandroids, Love Is All, The Two Koreas @ Horseshoe Tavern, Toronto (April 3, 2010)
MySpace: The Two Koreas
MySpace: Love Is All
MySpace: Japandroids

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