The Aquarium

Japandroids came to Portland last night to play a show at the Wonder Ballroom. I put on a dress and heels and headed out on a Tuesday night to see them despite my ridiculous backlog of work *yawn* and the knowledge that making such a decision would only allow me three hours of sleep before my next work day began….but hey, that’s what rock stars do and I couldn’t be happier with my irresponsible decision. Before I talk about last nights show, let me give you the back-story.

The first time I saw Japandroids live was September 2009, just a few months after this Canadian rock duo signed to Polyvinyl and released Post-Nothing (cop this). The show was at one of my favorite music venues in the world (seriously), The Aquarium in Fargo, North Dakota. Oh fer shaaar, Fargo’s EXACTLY like the movie. Moving on…The Aquarium is a small venue with a capacity of 300 (broken down, I’d say max of about 200 skinny Midwest hipsters and 100 beefy NDSU jocks) but it has more character than most big city venues and it gets a lot of the up-and-coming bands that will later allow you to brag about how next level you are for seeing them before they were famous. Anyways, their show in ND blasted my face clear off. Two guys on stage, a wind-machine, and pure, unadulterated rock. Sure, I was a fan of Brian King and David Prowse before the show but I was a forever fan about three songs into their live performance.

With the release of their newest album, Celebration Rock (cop that), I was a little concerned about their rapidly rising fame. Okay fine, I was very happy for them but selfishly concerned about the size of venues that they’d be playing and the mainstream personas they’d take on. My fears were put to rest when I got to re-live that same small-venue feeling a few months ago here in Portland at the Doug Fir lounge; nothing had changed except that their catalog of songs was now double the size, they had a sweet light show to accompany the wind, and Brian had a few more holes in his t-shirt. If I’m going to be real with you, it was basically just a few strips of cloth clinging on for dear life. This made me so happy, not his t-shirt being so holey, but the fact that they hadn’t changed.

Soon after the Fir show, it was announced that the boys would be back in town just five months later at Wonder Ballroom; of course I was going to be there. The Wonder holds over two and a half times the capacity of the venues I’d seen them play in before but I knew they could fill it up. Last night, I walked into the spot and immediately noticed a sea of men. The ratio of males to females had to be 100:1 but my friend and I weren’t mad about it, even though it smelled like stinky socks. The show started and everyone went totally crazy. Brian stopped after the first song and told the crowd that this was the wildest he’d ever seen Portland get. In his words:

Portland, your stock is rising.

I tried to take notes so I would remember their set list but this is what I have in my phone, ‘Adenejine nighsguf fures highways boyd v ack in town’….so yeah, I can only tell you what the first three songs were. Some blogger, I am. The show was just as amazing as I’d hoped. They played for over an hour and a half chock-full of crazy riffs, drum solos, and so much quality noise. It should be noted that 700+ men jumping around and banging into each other (boys are so strange) for an hour and a half created the ambiance of a Russian bath house. The guy in front of me, once clad in a classy sweater and scarf combo, was now wearing a white T-shirt sheer from all the sweat and the other guys around us, who thought they were prepared wearing only light tees, were just as drenched.

…Speaking of Russia…during World War II (smoooth), I present to you the video for The House That Heaven Built featuring my real-life friends blood Hitler (as they call him in the YouTube comments) and a blonde, bearded Stalin; that last one’s a stretch but it’s pretty cool that two of my friends in Toronto are getting crazy in this video. Last night looked just like this.

Japandroids are meant to perform, rile up crowds, and somehow be small-town-boy likeable while being totally bad-ass rock stars.  If you have a chance to see them live, GO!  Tell them Jenna from Wait And Scene says, “What’s up?” (This will mean nothing to them, but I’d appreciate the plug).

Until next time, that was Wait And Scene going to ALL OF THE SHOWS so you don’t have to.