New York City Surrenders To Japandroids’ Fist Pumping Rock REVIEW+PHOTOS: JAPANDROIDS @ BROOKLYN STEEL 11/26/17
The title track of Vancouver’s Japandroids traces the arc of guitarist/vocalist Brian King’s artistic and personal journey, parsing the fine distinction between home and hometown, destiny and dream. On a chilly New York evening, the singalong chorus got the crowd “all fired up,” King’s defiant delivery and drummer/vocalist David Prowse’s angular, unhinged rhythms propelling us forward into the night.
Near to the Wild Heart of Life (Anti-, Arts & Crafts), Japandroid’s third album, encapsulates both the feverish energy of the band’s live shows as well as the finesse of artists who know how to communicate fundamental themes of love and loss in unguarded, unironic ways. If the songs alone don’t have you convinced, the fist-pumping, crowd-surfing audience — that boisterous, joyful, sweaty mass of bodies packing both levels of Brooklyn Steel — should be proof enough that you don’t need more than two fierce artists on stage to build an anthemic wall of sound — the sort that sweeps you up in its tidal force, all-encompassing and affirming.
King explains that the album name is drawn from Clarice Lispectors “Near To The Wild Heart,” which in turns is a reference to James Joyce’s “Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man” — and that aesthetic, both stream-of-consciousness and granular and vivid in detail — permeates the lyrics and the sonics of the album.
The evening’s set included a cross-section of songs from the latest album as well as Post-Nothing (2009) and Celebration Rock (2012). King’s widescreen energy carried him back and forth across the stage, leaping up onto Prowse’s kit, the duo feeding off each other’s and the crowd’s pure exhilaration.
The line in “No Known Drink or Drug” captures well the ethos of Japandroids, making moments into memories. And by the final song of the night, the venue felt like a place of communion–a “House that Heaven Built.”