Review: Japandroids bring wild noise to long-awaited concert at Crowbar in Ybor City
Perhaps the most remarkable thing about Japandroids’ show Wednesday night at Crowbar was that it happened at all.
It seemed like the Vancouver guitar-drums duo was one of those acts eternally set to bypass Florida, never venturing down further south than Atlanta. Yet during a five-month tour to promote their new record Celebration Rock, they finally slipped into the Sunshine State and into Tampa.
For his part, guitarist and vocalist Brian King was ever the polite Canadian, apologizing profusely for having taken so long to reach Tampa. Yet he swore to make up for it by playing every song the audience could want — a promise delivered and then some.
Opening for them was Swearin’, featuring Alison Crutchfield of P.S. Eliot. The last time Alison played Tampa in June, it was to about a dozen people at Transitions Art Gallery with her sister and former bandmate Katie’s solo project Waxahatchee.
But Swearin’s gained a larger profile lately — perhaps due to a lengthy New York Times profile on the twin sisters — and they played to a far larger crowd at Crowbar. And the band dutifully delivered with noisy ’90s riffs, effects like running a drumstick down a guitar and songs like Kenosha, maybe the catchiest song ever written about an obscure Wisconsin city.
Japandroids are gaining in popularity too, in the midst of a tour extensive even by their tour-heavy standards and earning fans like Daniel Tosh, who sported one of their shirts on Tosh.0. (Although whether a fan like that hurts or helps is debatable.) And they responded with an intensely crowd-pleasing set that rocked through nearly every song on their two records.
If their wall of sound sounded slightly less noisy than usual, it might’ve been because they were confined to Ybor City’s noise levels. King even called on concertgoers to complain to the City Council in that rare discussion of municipal government at a rock show. Yet with a response ranging from boos to shouts of “f--- Ybor City,” that call seemed most likely to go unheard.
Still, King and drummer David Prowse made more noise than many four or five-piece bands accomplish, thrashing through tracks like Heart Sweats and Crazy/Forever. They were also backed by a surprisingly large light show, including a suitably orange haze during Fire’s Highway and a sea of white light that, when coupled with King’s shaggy hair and white shirt, seemed downright messianic.
All in all, it was exactly the kind of set you’d want from a band that’s held out on visiting for long. By my count, the only song from their two full-lengths they didn’t play was Post-Nothing’s closer I Quit Girls.
They even made up for this with a number of covers, including The Gun Club’s For the Love of Ivy, Mclusky’s To Hell with Good Intentions and teases of Green Day’s Brain Stew. And this is how the show ended — King playing atop Prowse’s drums during For the Love of Ivy, just the two of them making noise, a few more joking snippets of Brain Stew and then gone, again, from Tampa.
-- Jimmy Geurts, tbt*. Photos: Brian Mahar, tbt*.