June 28th, 2012 9:31am

Yell Like Hell To The Heavens

Japandroids @ Bowery Ballroom 6/27/2012

The Boys Are Leaving Town / Adrenaline Nightshift / Younger Us / Fire’s Highway / Rockers East Vancouver / The Nights of Wine and Roses / Wet Hair / Evil’s Sway / The House That Heaven Built / Crazy/Forever / Sovereignty / Continuous Thunder / Young Hearts Spark Fire / For the Love of Ivy

It’s been very hard to find truly great mainstream rock bands since the mid-90s. Even a lot of bands that want to rock out in earnest get tripped up on some level by this notion that being a rock band isn’t cool or powerful anymore, and that it’s just some retro thing. There’s not even a trace of that in Japandroids, a duo who pound out catchy, energetic rockers with the power and intensity of a quintet, and perform with the sincerity of guys who do not for a moment question the vitality of rock as an idea or path to transcendence. The band’s force and momentum is owed to powerhouse drummer David Prowse, but the draw is in frontman Brian King, whose massive charisma is at odds with his deep Canadian humility. It’s amazing to see people like King in action — the kind of performer who just totally surrenders to their music, and seems so thoroughly moved and joyful by the experience that everyone else in the room wants to get to the same place with him. Half the room at the Bowery Ballroom got there by moshing continuously for 80 minutes; the rest pumped their fists and sang along. It’s such a simple and powerful thing, you know? Japandroids work hard to remind you that this sort of thing was never ever stupid or useless, and it doesn’t have to be old fashioned.

Japandroids “The Nights of Wine and Roses”

“The Night of Wine and Roses” is my favorite Japandroids song, but it’s sort of hard to explain why. A lot of it is in the dynamics, and the way Prowse drives King’s guitars further toward this white hot section around the three minute mark that brings me back to the physical rush I remember from early 90s songs like “Cherub Rock.” King’s words are so blunt – it’s a song about getting drunk or high, and enjoying youth – that they short circuit any attempt to distance yourself from a direct, open-hearted sentiment. You can be too cool for this and back away, or you can just dive in and feel this wave of joy and enthusiasm. I listen to this song almost every day lately, and it always makes me feel truly glad to be alive.

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