“Japandroids and Slim Twig at Piano’s”
For Knocks From the Underground
By: Michael Bradshaw
Piano’s “Live Room” holds 122 souls; so says the sign on the wall. Touring to promote their record, Post-Nothing, Japandroids easily produced that number, and the crowd that packed into the venue on Saturday was hungry to worship them thanks to a healthy supply of fuzzy Internet buzz and a low-fi sound that’s as raw as it is accessible.
First up however, Slim Twig: a slight cowpoke from Canada with a pencil mustache who crowed behind a (quite stunning) Farfisa keyboard and an arsenal of effects sequencers. Behind the mic, Twig strutted around the stage with evangelical swagger. Jabbing the air with his index finger, he twitched and mumbled with a hunka-hunka Southern twang (he’s from Toronto). Sample after sample wrangled from his machines was then rumbled through the PA like tumbleweed. Comparisons to Jon Spencer can’t be helped; Soul Coughing, even Biggie.
“I feel unhinged,” Twig admitted, his young eyes shadowy and tired, his curly pompadour hung low in his face. “Where I’m from, last call is 2am.”
A cascading Nancy Sinatra sample thundered from his rig. Twig, writhing, jammed on his guitar, posted an amp-stand, and fell backwards into a stack of monitors.
Japandroids’ Brian King and Dave Prowse took to the stage shortly thereafter with considerably less enthusiasm. During a brief sound check, Brian tore a hard riff from his guitar, shrugged, and quipped dismissively while lifting a can of Pabst to his lips, “Party-fuckin’-time.”
Positioned facing stage right, Dave pounded the drums furiously. Brian climbed on a road case with one leg propped on the lip of the kick. A strategically placed stage fan blew Brian’s hair back. His shirt fluttered open spectacularly as he stroked thick, distorted riffs at a volume so loud, it prompted one audience member to declare it the “loudest fucking thing” he’d ever heard.
It’s easy to see why Japandroids are so popular. The songs are powerful and catchy. The themes they explore in their lyrics, (girls, getting drunk, feelings) are familiar. They’re a populist band, and a good one. However, Japandroids are at that magical point in a rock band’s career when they’re small enough to still have to play make-good shows at smaller venue’s like Piano’s, but big enough to do so flanked by Sony HD Handi-cams.
Brian announced that the last time Japandroids played Manhattan (also at Piano’s) zero people were in attendance. Saturday’s show, however, was sold out, as was the Friday show at Cameo in Brooklyn. Such a milestone is cause for celebration. But, when the people demanded a rare encore, Japandroids declined citing that they were too tired. The show was over. 122 people shuffled out on to Ludlow just in time to get caught in the pouring rain.