Brian King wouldn’t let the crowd forget it was a work night, and then did the most likely thing and played a blistering set that ticked in at just under two hours. You could count the released songs not played on one hand, which for a band with a couple of EPs and albums, was an impressive feat on a Monday night.
Brian King and David Prowes brought their rising star Japandroids back to The Fillmore, but this time, their name was top billing. Having seen this duo in the closet-like Hemlock Tavern not much longer than a year ago, one can only marvel at the success garnered from their early summer release Celebration Rock.
“Adrenaline Nightshift” was the first song played after a little intro jam, and the crowd ignited quickly and passionately. They tackled a crowd favorite off the new LP, “Fire’s Highway”, next displaying a new tightness that wasn’t their strong suit a couple of years ago. Luckily, this precise playing did not deter from any of the energy these two Canucks are well known for. Like other guitar and drum duos, such as Helio Sequence, these two guys have a lot on their plate, night after night, creating rhythm, energy and creativity from only 2 sources. Brian and David share the vocal duties rather evenly, and a better sense of harmony has grown apparent since last seeing them.
These new singing chops were well demonstrated on Post-Nothing track, “The Boys Are Leaving Town”. This song seemed rather apt as Brian kept reminding us that these road warriors had to be in Portland very soon for tomorrow’s show. Yet, as he seemed concerned with lengthy travel ahead, not a soul would have made this assessment as King twisted, contorted and generally rocked the fuck out. He kept the energy high with “Night of Wine and Roses” and “Rockers East Vancouver”, before launching into “Heart Sweats”. Though the masses are more familiar with Celebration Rock, the material from first record, Post-Nothing, still had the piercing intensity and good-times vibe that led these guys to a critical plateau.
As the duo led into their single, “House That Heaven Built”, a handful of guys and girls couldn’t help themselves and darted into the center front of the stage, pogoing and shoving with the ignited few. King pours his heart into every song, and you can visibly see him go through this process. This was demonstrated by the mighty huff for air just as he pounced back into the chorus of this chant-along song. “Crazy/Forever” led into “Sovereignty”, seamlessly, and is truly a gem of a combination, going from ballad to screamer in seconds flat.
King and Prowse weren’t close to done with the evening, so they catapulted into even more previous LP tracks, “Young Hearts Spark Fire”. This one truly represents the carpe diem/YOLO aspect of their lyrics and music, even as they creep into their 30s. As the extended set winded down, it was evident they had a little more in them, and not just a Jonny Rivers tease of “Secret Agent Man”.
Though the band may come after me for disclosing the secret of the evening, a rare encore was in store for the patient midweek crowd. King went as far as to turn off, even unplug, his amps but the fans chanted for one more. “I Quit Girls” would be the last track, effectively playing both albums in full. The slow drudge of the final track on Post-Nothing let everyone catch their breath for the final moments.
The success earned by these two is impressive and deserved, even as 4-5 years ago they seriously contemplated hanging up the project. The infectious hooks and energy coupled with a fuck-all, yet accessible, sense of rebellion makes these guys pure rock and roll, if just a 2-piece act. This characteristic can be summed up easily for this writer in a lyric from Young Hearts: “I don’t wanna worry about dying, I just wanna worry about those sunshine girls.”
The Boys Are Leaving Town
The Nights of Wine and Roses
Rockers East Vancouver
To Hell With Good Intentions (Mclusky cover)
The House That Heaven Built
Young Hearts Spark Fire
For the Love of Ivy (The Gun Club cover)
I Quit Girls