By Tommy Diehl
Performing in front of a jam packed audience at 9:30 Club in D.C. for the the second straight night, Japandroids shook the building with crisp and anthemic rock ‘n’ roll. Touring in support of their new album, Near to the Wild Heart of Life, the Canadian rock duo, made up of Brian King (guitar and vocals) and David Prowse (drums and vocals), gave the crowd every ounce of raw energy and emotion they expected and more.
Craig Finn and The Uptown Controllers, a four-piece indie-rock band from Minnesota, kicked the night off with a rousing set that established the mood for what would be a lively evening for all. With a Bruce Springsteen-esque voice, Craig Finn engaged the audience with a kind and sincere personality you do not generally associate with rock ‘n’ roll.
While announcing his upcoming album release in March, Finn noted the new album would be called We All Want the Same Things. Playing to the crowd he yelled, “We all know that we want food, we want freedom and we want rock ‘n’ roll!”
By the time Japandroids arrived on stage, 9:30 Club was filled to capacity with nearly everyone bouncing on their toes in anticipation. As they started things off with the title track off their new album, moshing broke out immediately.
You might think that a two-piece rock band would sound weaker than the typical four-piece rock bands we are accustomed to, but that would be a false assumption. Almost nostalgic in nature, Japandroids recalls the music of ‘70s classic rock, but brings into the 21st century with meticulous studio refinement, as evidenced by their new album.
“Some say 2017 is the year that rock and roll dies, but back in 2012 when we wrote this album, it was a time to celebrate it,” King exclaimed to the crowd as they launched into Celebration Rock.
While some might say all their songs blend together and others call it cheesy rock ‘n’ roll, it cannot be denied that Japandroids can energize a crowd. Playing hits off all their albums including, “Fire’s Highway,” “True Love And A Free Life Of Free Will” and “Younger Us,” King and Prowse let their trademark “woah-ohs” rain down on a crowd pulsing with passion.
The show did seem a bit choppy at times as the Canadian duo would pause for extended periods between songs as King tuned his guitar and caught his breath. Nonetheless, they managed to use these breaks to connect with the audience.
During a momentary break, a rowdy group of long haired, sweaty guys began to chant, “It’s his birthday,” as they pointed at their friend. King immediately acknowledged the birthday boy and told him they were going to do something they don’t often in honor of him.
Diving headfirst into “Heart Sweats,” “Young Hearts Spark Fire” and “Sovereignty,” a trio of songs off their 2009 album, Post-Nothing, King bounced around the stage slinging his long greasy hair in every direction and shouting lyrics into the rafters.
You would think that after an hour of screaming, air-guitaring and vigorously dancing, the crowd would begin to tire. In fact it was the exact opposite as “In A Body Like A Grave” and “No Known Drink or Drug,” both off their new album, brought the moshing to a climax.
Amid all the violent dancing, a young girl was knocked to the ground, which prompted perhaps the most stereotypically polite Canadian response possible. Abandoning the serious, rock persona he had created on stage, King made sure the girl was alright and invited her to watch the rest of the show from the side of the stage before reminding everyone to look out for each other.
After delivering a roaring rendition of their biggest hit, “The House That Heaven Built,” Japandroids invited Finn back on stage to cover The Saints song “I’m Stranded.” Finn playfully took center stage and, just like nearly everyone else had all night, rocked out with no inhibitions.
Featured Photo Credit: Courtesy of Japandroids’ Facebook page.
Tommy Diehl is a freshman architecture major and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.