Last night Drew & I went to the Grog Shop to see Japandroids & it ruled! I was still vaguely bumming about the show we saw the other night and was worried about tonight being another bust, but Japandroids were fantastic. Drew had to work, so we missed the first opener (Two Hand Fools) and arrived at the very end of the second opener’s set. The second band, Jaguar Love (ex-members of the Blood Brothers & Pretty Girls Make Graves), just wasn’t my thing (or Drew’s, for that matter), so it was no big deal that we only heard them play about two songs.
The main opener, Avi Buffalo, was from Long Beach, CA & has an album coming out on Sub Pop later this month. Honestly, and I feel kind of like a jerk for saying this, I feel like I don’t legitimately remember enough of their short set to really describe their sound, which is why I will never be a music journalist. BUT, a perusal of the “About” section of their webpage reveals that they view their music as being analogous to Lou Barlow, Bob Pollard, and Bill Fox — which is something I just didn’t hear. Maybe it’s because I’m so steeped in GBV songs that I wouldn’t recognize their subtler influences on a band? Do I just think a song needs to be a cover of “Gold Heart Mountaintop Queen Directory” to sound like a Bob Pollard song? Whatever. They were nice kids & clearly very enthusiastic to be playing, though they seemed a little shaky. (I don’t blame them, it was their first show on the tour & Cleveland crowds can be pretty hard to read sometimes.)
ANYWAY, what I am really talking about here is Japandroids, who ruled. They played their entire album, Post-Nothing, along with a couple of other songs. For those of you who aren’t already familiar with Japandroids, they’re a two piece (guitar and drums) from Vancouver who play exceptionally enthusiastic rock music. The first time I heard their album was sometime last summer when Drew & I were driving up to the Chagrin Falls area to pick up a bike. The car windows were down and the first track on their album, “The Boys Are Leaving Town” (which also happened to be the first song they played last night), sounded awesome. I really wish that I had better descriptive writing abilities, because I feel like a jerk for wanting to use words like “intense” or “powerful” or “soaring guitars,” but seriously. All of those things.
Something I’ve been thinking about a lot lately (perhaps as a result of all the riot grrrl revival talk) is the idea of dudes in music & music that reflects a distinctly male experience & how that music (supposedly) exists as an oppositional force that alienates women from participation in music scenes. I feel like a lot of people I know would classify Japandroids as being a “dude band” — I mean, they are two dudes and they do write songs about girls and beer and there were an awful lot of bros with their fists in the air at last night’s show, BUT I also feel like it’s worth mentioning that I don’t know that I necessarily buy Japandroids as a dude band. I do think that there’s a universality to what they’re doing & even though last night’s audience was predominately male, I don’t think that’s suggestive of their music being “dude-specific” & totally foreign to female experiences. I’m not really interested in entering into heavy critique mode right now, but gender politics in music and the supposed universality of dude music & intimate specificity of female music is something I’ve been mulling over lately & last night’s show had me thinking about it again.
Japandroids are continuing their tour in Champaign, IL tonight. For more dates and info, check out their webpage. If you’re a fan & have worn out your copy of their album, they have a new release of old releases called No Singles coming out at the end of this month. You can pre-order it here. No Singles compiles the 2 5-song EPS that Japandroids released before signing to Polyvinyl. My closing thought on the show: one thing that Japandroids have in common with Miles Kurosky is an excellent t-shirt selection.
Finally, a thought TOTALLY UNRELATED to any of the above, I was listening to Stone Cold Bikini on WRUW this past weekend & when “For Tammy Rae” came on I found myself thinking, “At this point in my life, I think I would really appreciate a shoegaze version of this song.”