I love Japan and I love Droids…so it just makes perfect sense that I would love Japandroids. These droids are made in Vancouver, which explains why they are some of the nicest people I’ve met. They sprung up on my radar with the help of Rolling Stone listing them as a one of “The 10 Coolest Summer Albums of All Time” with the release of “Celebration Rock”.
Before the show, I met two dedicated fans. One saw them in Halifax and after tonight’s show, will catch the Toronto performance, while the other is doing Montreal, Toronto, Nashville. Their specially made hats would get them a special dedication a little later in the evening, but they were bursting with enthusiasm when Cloud Nothings came out.
While three quarters of this quartet started making distorted noise, Jayson Gerycz (Drums) eventually came on stage and got down to business with “Now Hear In”. Unfortunately, I didn’t get the full force of the lyrics, one of the downsides of being right at the front at the Corona, but a good choice to get this crowd warmed up.
Blame Death From Above who played the previous night, but the Corona was by no means full. Mid set from Cloud Nothings, many had streamed in to catch this Cleveland, Ohio band in full swing. I spoke to Dylan Baldi after the show. He is far from bald, joking during his set that the last band he toured with teased him about combing his long hair, so he lets it loose at this show just to have mouthfuls of it while he sings. The perils of the rock-and-roll lifestyle.
Being a Business Coach, I asked Dylan how long ago did they make music a full-time pursuit. He said four years ago, and I can tell. I have never seen them before, so I can’t make a comparison, but you can tell when each song flows into the next one with ease, that these boys have paid their dues. TJ Duke (Bass) even grabbed a large Budweiser can from a guest that wasn’t holding onto to it and said: “Just wanted to see if I liked American Beer…nope!”. Seems like the joker of the bunch.
“I’m Not Part of Me” seemed to the be the song that really got the crowd going, followed by “Fall In” which started one of the many mosh pits we would see tonight. They finished with “Realize My Fate” which led to an extended outro that I was hoping would never end.
Now Hear In
I’m Not Part of Me
Realize My Fate
Japandroids got everyone’s attention with the first chord and didn’t let go till the end of this 15-song set with no encore. They started us off with the first track off the latest release “Near to the Wild Heart of Life”. It was my first experience seeing them. I don’t know how these droids are powered, but Brian King (Guitars, Vocas) has superhuman energy. Filling the stage with his presence, Brian’s energy reminded me of the energy of Frank Turner, but sounding like Social Distortion on guitar which his own signature voice added to the mix. The result is an amazing live show that had the crowd moshing and singing along at the top of their lungs for most of the show. Such was the energy transfer in the room, the band feeding from the crowd and vice-versa.
Brian asked if any in the crowd were at the Cabaret Mile-End show (Dec 2012) and quite a few responded. He dedicated “Younger Us” to these longtime supporters of the band.
The two fans beside me (from the beginning of this article) were sporting homemade “North East South West” baseball caps. This song off the latest release “Near to The Wild Heart Of Life” was specifically dedicated to these two, who seemed to have been invigorated with new energy and just sang with even more enthusiasm.
I was speaking with Dylan after the show about the 1000 True Fans Theory, something I’ve been meaning to write about for some time now. I will elaborate in another article, but the gist of the theory is that you only need 1000 true fans to make a living in this business. Seems much less daunting than millions. One way to convert a fan to a true fan (one that will NET you $100 each per year) is to create a moment for them. It might have been a few simple words spoken from the stage, but that dedication cemented these two as true fans.
Even the stage tech created a few moments. A tall young man beside us went up on stage and tried to rally the crowd to prepare for his stage dive. Seems they got the wrong cue and a large hole opened up, ready to accept his bodily sacrifice to the floor. He opted to remain un-bruised and got back down. The stage tech brought him a guitar pick to reward him for his attempt. When a drink was spilled to the left of my daughter and I, we could see this stream of liquid aiming for the guitar pedals. Slowly, this agent of destruction was determined to wreak havoc on the sound tonight. I made eye contact with the stage tech and pointed to it while doing the: “Do you want me to wipe it?” gesture. He felt confident that the gear would survive, so he proceeded to fold up a setlist into a paper airplane and shoot it towards us during the show. The plane’s trajectory was diverted at the last minute and landed behind Brian, dangerously close to being crushed by his enthusiastic feet. The stage tech was determined, he rescued the setlist plane and launched it again. Again, such a small act, but 2 more moments were created, which creates a bond between artist and fan. These moments are better than any marketing you can do.
The same tech came out twice with a bottle of Tequila and filled up a shot glass for Brian, while he took a swig. A little liquid courage to power the show.
There seems to be an inside joke about the “one guy” at every concert that yells out “Free Bird” as a request. Not on the repertoire, but mischievous Brian had a glimmer in his eye as he considered doing the song with the ill prepared David Prowse (Drums) so they both can mess up the song together.
Maybe it was that same “Free Bird” dude, but the one fan whom Brian said was yelling “Young Hearts Spark Fire” for the last hour, got his wish.
The set ended with a heartfelt thank-you for being here, followed by “The House That Heaven Built”. There was no encore, yet we all felt satisfied with such an energetic performance from both Brian and David.
After the show, while my ears are still ringing, my daughter and I had a chance to speak to David about tour hotel horror stories. My favorite one was for the Marlborough Hotel in Winnipeg, whose best TripAdvisor headline was simply: “Beware!” The boys can appreciate the tour bus, which becomes their home away from home.
We spoke of the legacy of Gordon Downie, who just passed away, leaving a gaping hole in Canadian music. Unlike Japandroids, The Tragically Hip never crossed over to the USA, which in a way made them special.
Before leaving, we wished Brian and David a great rest of the tour. My daughter totally forgot to address the Mexican Bingo stickers on Brian’s guitar, as we lived in Mexico for 5 years. I guess we will save that for the next time they return to Montreal, which I highly recommend you check out. Until them, maybe they will collect more when they visit Mexico City in November.
Near to the Wild Heart of Life
Arc of Bar
True Love and a Free Life of Free Will
North East South West
Midnight to Morning
The Nights of Wine and Roses
No Known Drink or Drug
Young Hearts Spark Fire
The House That Heaven Built