The air was tense at Bottletree that night, and it wasn’t just me. The line to get inside the doors of the sold out Japandroids show were only made longer by the delay in opening as the bands finished their sound checks. After the Vancouver-based duo of Brian King (the guitarist/vocalist) and David Prowse (the drummer/vocalist) cancelled their show mid-set back in November due to Brian falling victim to a strange bout of illness, absolutely everyone was excited to see the show they were promised months ago. The venue wasn’t clueless to how anticipated the show was, either, sending out emails to all those who bought tickets to this second show, requiring absolutely everyone to RSVP to get in…which was a non-issue, as everyone did. Having never seen a Japandroids show, I knew tonight was going to be intense.
The bar was packed within an hour of opening. People of all walks of life were there, waiting for the show to start, and some, like myself, had never seen a Japandroids show, or their opening act, A Place to Bury Strangers. As per the usual crowd at Bottletree, most everyone was sporting a can of PBR and anxious to hear some music.
Around 9 PM, the lights went out and all went silent before the crowd burst into cheers as the A Place to Bury Strangers took the stage. The band, consisting of Oliver Ackermann (the guitarist/vocalist), Dion Lunadon (the bassist) and Robi Gonzalez (the drummer), rocked the entire venue with pure sound; standing in about the center of the crowd, I still noticed my ears ringing within the first song in their set, something I was hoping to avoid. They played seamlessly from one song to the next, with their blend of trippy, experimental, in-your-face rock, as the veil of darkness, spotlights, and smoke made them appear as these mysterious figures of power upon the stage. The brief moments of guitar dueling between the guitarist and bassists was a finishing touch to pump up the audience and get some positive energy going before the main act, as ever good opening act should.
Thirty short minutes after their set, it was time. Time for the musical event people had been waiting over half a year to see: the Japandroids. They came out with an amazing stage presence, and it was clear that both Brian and David had brought their “A” game this time. After the opening song, Brian made it clear to everyone how deeply sorry he was for the bum gig they had back in November, and thanked everyone for giving them another chance. This was but one of numerous times throughout the show he thanked everyone for the second chance, making it very apparent that he was intent on paying his due interest by rocking off some faces.
For fans of the Japandroids, or rock fans in general, the show was an absolute blast. Brian and David were completely in sync for the whole show, and the special effects up on stage made each song come to life in different ways. One of the best examples was the light work for “Fire’s Highway,” which set the stage ablaze with orange and red spotlights erratically flooding the room in perfect choreography to the music. “The Nights of Wine and Roses” was another personal favorite they played, although you would be hard-pressed to pick only a few songs out of their stellar lineup for the night.
For their more hardcore fans out there, they even played a song or two that you won’t find on their discographies anywhere. Songs from back in their early days before they made it big, I’d imagine.
It could have been my imagination, but the show seemed like it went on a good thirty minutes longer than most people expected it to. With all the apologies to the audience the Japandroids issued, it’s my suspicion that it was their own little way of paying it forward to the fans that let them have another shot.
All-in-all, the show was an electric storm of raw energy, and it was only made better by the Japandroids letting everyone know how much they care about their fans. A Place to Bury Strangers is a band I see coming into their own one day, so given the chance, I would recommend checking them out (but a pair of earplugs would be advised for any of their shows). As for the Japandroids, the next time a dynamic duo of rockers this excellent blow into town, you would be wise to snatch up your ticket, on the double.