Question: How do you objectively review a show when you spent a major portion of it bouncing around at the front, screaming along to every word you can remember? It presents me with something of a conundrum. On Friday night at the Echoplex, two unassuming young men from Vancouver named Brian King and David Prowse transformed themselves into a double headed rock hydra called Japandroids, ripping through song after song of fist-pumping anthems written with the sole purpose of whipping up a crowd into one grinning, bouncing, sweating mass. They succeeded spectacularly.


All photos by: Laura Chirinos

When I wrote my album review for the duo’s new LP, Celebration Rock, I suggested that it did feel more like an advert for their live show than a truly cohesive album in its own right, and having seen the thing up close I feel completely vindicated in that assessment. Japandroids are not trying to reinvent the wheel here. They are not attempting to change your life, merely to remind you that you are indeed living it, and that you get one shot at having as many amazing nights as you can manage. From opener “The Boys Are Leaving Town,” they displayed a focus and completely immersive intensity that was at times jaw-dropping. Amongst many other thoughts, I did wonder how Brian King’s constantly thrashing head failed to detach itself from his shoulders.

There is something else here as well. While the tools of their trade are nothing revolutionary, there is a firm beating heart behind these songs, and in the likes of the glorious “Younger Us,” there is that feeling that the salad days are getting away from us. As a 31 year old burning calories like I was 17, that feeling especially resonated (how long can I get away with this?), but the live setting does provide a platform for making these songs sound utterly celebratory. Brian King’s between-song banter was that of a man who is truly grateful for what his band has become, and his reflection of the love he felt from his audience added to a sense of intimacy and community that I have not experienced at a live show for a long time.

Picking out highlights feels like an exercise in futility. Every one of the fans in the crowd had their moments, but judging from the increased volume and the wild reaction to the magnificent “The House That Heaven Built,” that song may just have the edge. “Young Hearts Spark Fire” from their excellent debut album was delivered late in the set, but with a huge energy level. These guys do not bother with the concept of “encores.” It was simply one hour and twenty minutes of playing like their lives depended on it, with just enough time between songs for the crowd to recover their breath for the next round of gleeful dancing. Between them, King and Prowse (whose drumming was relentless and of the highest quality) sounded like a five-piece — such was the sense of power emanating from the stage.

So back to that initial question: How do I objectively review a show like this with a critical eye? The answer is that Japandroids rendered it unnecessary to do so. Shows like this are the whole reason I fell in love with live music in the first place. For a chunk of a Friday night I got to jump around with no concept of how ridiculous I might look. I shared space with people I’ve never met before and will probably never see again, and we experienced something special together. I got to forget all the worries and stresses of the real world and feel like the Echoplex was, for a brief period of time, the entire universe.

As I walked out into a pleasantly mild Los Angeles evening with a t-shirt drenched in both my own sweat and that of countless strangers, I knew that for a few hours, sleep would not be an option.The buzz alone was going to keep me awake, and my face was already hurting from smiling so much. My voice was shot, my ears were ringing, and in that moment, I felt complete. There are a handful of bands you will see in your life that can make you feel that righteous, and Japandroids are one of them.

For more information on Japandroids and their new album, visit their website.