Wednesday, 22 July 2009

LIVE REVIEW: Japandroids @ Siren Music Fest, Coney Island NY - 7/18/09

Rather than keep procrastinating on posting one almighty supernova of a review of last weekend's stellar Siren festival, I thought I'd break it up into palatable, asteroid-size chunks, band by band.

Although technically the first band I stumbled upon was
Bear Hands, it was for the last song and I couldn't form any useful opinion. They looked to be enjoying themselves and seemed to be suitably upbeat, however, so I'm sure they were a good time.

All of which left it to Japandroids to kick off our sunny afternoon in the kitschy environs of Coney Island, taking to the Main Stage in the shadow of the rickety old Cyclone roller coaster. As I've previously mentioned, this Canadian duo have been much hyped (at least in the inward looking blogosphere....quite what's going on in the real world, how should we know??) but bear out a lot of this chatter with their noisy-yet-harmonious take on garage rock. Hence the piqued interest and the anticipation of their early afternoon set.

With the drum kit featuring more prominently front and (slightly left of) centre than usual, the pair clearly see the need to pad the stage out. More at home in packed, tight clubs - singer/guitarist Brian King quips at one point that all the folks they've ever played to still wouldn't amount to today's audience numbers....aww - the relatively large stage does seem to dwarf the performers upon it in this instance. They plow on nonetheless, with King roaming the stage to offer a little more visual stimulation, leaving drummer/also-singer David Prowse to pound away relentlessly at his kit.

Truth be told, the set is something of a hit and miss affair. The empty space isn't entirely an issue except that it's constantly referred to between songs, to the extent that it draws one's attention to the visual aspect above the music at times. Sonically, the sound is reasonable - not the case for all the bands to follow them - and the elevated volume suits Japandroids just fine. Their energy levels and enthusiasm are never in question, yet some songs simply meander noisily around a central riff that fails to lead anywhere memorable.

Japandroids - Heart Sweats
Taken from the album 'Post Nothing'

Buy it at Insound!

When they do strike gold, however, they could give Fort Knox a run for its money. The staccato flow of
Rockers East Vancouver, the familiar and expectedly anthemic Young Hearts Spark Fire, and the pure rock drive of outstanding set highlight Heart Sweats, all deliver the goods. In doing so, they mark Japandroids out as a band that most likely simply need a little more time to develop a full canon of similarly undeniable material.

So despite the few misses, Japandroids certainly delivered the energy and shot in the arm usually required to kick start a large outdoor musical event. Next time, though, let's meet in a tiny little dive club and do this garage rock thing right. See you down the front........

Now playing: Jeff Caudill - Remember The Time
via FoxyTunes

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