Japandroids at the Larimer Lounge, 6/19/12 (photos and review) - Reverb

Japandroids at the Larimer Lounge, 6/19/12 (photos and review)

The new Japandroids record, “Celebration Rock,” is bookended with the sounds of fireworks — apropos for a late June that sees a surfeit of Black Cat stands popping up in liquor store parking lot corners, the nation’s birthday steadily approaching. (Another J-Droid coincidence that seems to fit our fire-plagued state: The band’s press photos from its previous album, “Post-Nothing,” are of singer-guitarist Brian King and singer-drummer David Prowse standing amongst the latter’s kit, which is ablaze.) And, while “Celebration Rock” isn’t exactly built for coffee shops or soccer moms, the true inferno that is Japandroids — no triteness, here — has to be appreciated live.

The group’s unfettered ardor onstage doesn’t match up squarely with its recordings, which sport a suffused clarity. At the Larimer Lounge last night, the Vancouver duo was expectedly ramshackle. King took the stage already covered in sweat and what may be termed “punk-rock” upon a listen from Bose noise-cancelers was closer to noise-rock when channeled through the Larimer’s speakers. Japandroids laid down the irony fist first, playing “The Boys Are Leaving Town” as an introduction. (King remarked that the last time the two had played the venue, it was snowing and they were, now, well-aquainted with Denver’s polarizing weather. It was hot: A bartender’s opening and closing of a nearby refrigerator was a welcome respite for at least one concertgoer’s pale, bare legs.)

As I wrote last week, it’s unclear why Japandroids are — pardon the expression — striking a particular chord right now. To hedge a guess: “Celebration Rock” has moved the duo firmly into anthemic territory. Last night, fists were pumped to “The Nights of Wine and Roses” (especially fervently on the words “drinking” and “smoking”), dark lyrics were shouted back to King and Prowse during “Evil’s Sway” and a ’90s-worthy mosh pit formed for “The House That Heaven Built.” “Ohs” and “yeahs” flew about as if it were a Twisted Sister show.

Earlier, “Younger Us” cemented itself as a candidate for 2012’s elegy of year, the generation representing most of the audience unable to eschew life’s responsibilities. Still, King made a point of telling the audience to treat a Tuesday like a Friday and he, in particular, followed that lead with an adolescent spirit channeled through ripping chords as much as his goofy banter.

The second song of the night was “Adrenaline Nightshift.” It was as fitting as much of the rest, Japandroids opening up its furor at 10:35 p.m. on the dot. Not everyone was checking their watches, but some were. Work beckoned for much of the crowd in the morning, but King and Prowse were just clocking in.

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Colin St. John is a Denver-based writer and merrymaker. Follow him on Twitter and check out his blog.

Andrew Bisset is a Denver photographer and a new contributor to Reverb.