Japandroids | 11.20.12

japandroids sqEveryone wanted to rock out and dance around and most people got that. Again, just a metric ass ton of energy on stage.


Firebird, St. Louis

Where to begin? I had such high hopes going into this show—probably unrealistic high hopes. I really, really wanted to give this show a glowing review. All the ingredients where there for a face-melter of a show: great buzz band with two excellent albums, small venue, sold-out and highly enthusiastic crowd, excellent set list, catchy as hell songs to sing along to…er, yell along to. So what happened? Why do I feel like this was just a good show and not a great show?

My issues with this show were not with the band or the crowd. Bless their crazy hearts: Japandroid poured their body and soul out on stage for us. They did their best to try to blow the roof off of the Firebird and the crowd certainly appreciated the effort. Drummer David Prowe beat the ever-living daylights out of his kit and in the process almost beat us all into submission (more on that shortly). Singer guitarist Brian King hardly stopped moving the 100-plus-minute set other than to tune his axe or occasionally crack jokes between songs. He had such energy playing that I wonder how he was able to go as long as he did and if he could move the next day.

Both guys had a good sense of humor and were extremely grateful for the reception they received all night. Personally, I was glad to see just how enthusiastic the crowd was. Everyone wanted to rock out and dance around and most people got that. Again, just a metric ass ton of energy on stage. They did the obligatory playing to the local crowd, but they also poked fun at the Blues since they are Canuck fans. With them being from Vancouver, I’m sure it’s a crime to not be a Canucks’ fan, so that is forgivable. Their set list was fantastic, as well. They only have two short LPs plus a collection of other tracks and they played almost every song from both, so that was great.

My issue with the show was the sound/mix. From where I was watching the show, it was off. The bass levels on the drums seemed to be a little high; it almost drowned out the guitar and mixed with Brian’s singing created a very loud, muddled tone. I was in the middle close to the sound board, so you would expect the best sound there. The mix on the guitar seemed to be a little low to the point that any time riffs were played that were not made up of just crunchy chords, you really could not hear them over the drums. Also the drummer’s mic volume seemed really loud, and when he sang it was borderline shrill.

Changing positions didn’t really help the situation, either. Having been to several shows at the Firebird that sounded great, I left wondering what happened. I have no issues with the music being loud, but if the mix is off and it completely detracts from the performance, we have problems. That is not to say that the whole night was off. Some songs sounded good even through the muddled sound (testament to how great their songs are); the high energy of the band and the enthusiasm of the crowd all helped save the show. Everyone else seemed to leave happy and with a smile on their face, which is what you want ultimately.

Standout tracks were “Adrenaline Nightshift,” “The Boys Are Leaving Town,” “Darkness on the Edge of Gastown,” “Fire’s Highway,” “House That Heaven Built,” and the raucous closer “For the Love of Ivy.” | Michael Koehler

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