Last Night: Japandroids and Bass Drum of Death at Bryan Street Tavern

Japandroids, Bass Drum of Death
Bryan Street Tavern
September 7, 2011

Better than:
staying in and playing the Republican Debate Drinking Game.

Hyped as 'a big bill in a tiny venue' by promoter Parade of Flesh, last night's Bass Drum of Death and Japandroids bill turned out to be more of a medium-sized bill in the most perfect venue in town for these types of offerings. 

More and more as of late, Bryan Street Tavern has been the site of some killer punk shows, as well as the en vogue place to play for smallish underground indie buzz bands, filling the void left by the restructurings of The Cavern and The Nightmare as one of Parade of Flesh's go-to venues. 

Mississippi garage rockers Bass Drum of Death and Vancouver's Japandroids played to a room that managed to fill up quite nicely, especially for a Wednesday and with worthy competition coming from across town via the Tim Kasher and Sealion bill at The Loft

"This is easily twice the people who came to the Cavern," Japandroids singer and guitarist Brian King said as he gazed out at the growing audience prior to the duo's first song. That 2009 show he referenced, also booked by PoF, was one King mentioned fondly several times during the night, once while quipping that he had to pull his van over and vomit on the side of the freeway on the way to Dallas.

Between bits of stage banter, however, there were sonically-impressive numbers, alternating between unreleased material and old tunes for the first part of the set and then crowd favorites for the back end. King's mix of heavy sustain, unconventional tunings, innovative chord shapes, and sheer volume allowed him to divide up rhythmic playing on the lower strings while keeping lead licks going on the upper end. With bandmate David Prowse's busy drumming and backing vocals thrown into the mix the pair managed to fill the room with a thick, head-shakingly complex sound. 

Before heading off to share beers and stories with audience members the duo did a brutally punk version of The Gun Club's "For the Love of Ivy" that was faster, tighter, louder and more straightforward than anything they played previously. It made for a fitting end to their charismatic set.

Critic's Notebook
Random Note:
Even with the addition of a second touring guitarist for openers Bass Drum of Death there were still only five members total between the two bands that played -- and not one of them was a bassist.

By The Way: Just about every review of Soviet's Forever Today EP made mention of its heavy Japandroids influence, so it was no surprise really to see Soviet frontman John Spies in attendance. Prior to their set, he mentioned that playing covers of every Japandroids song in his drummer's garage was the reason they started making music in the first place.

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