There aren’t many bands out there that can cover the Gun Club and avoid sounding trite or phony. Japandroids – with immense energy – does it well. The band closed its most recent album, “Celebration Rock,” and a shit-hot 90-minute set with a cover of the totem, “For Love of Ivy” Sunday night at the Bluebird. You could almost feel the ghost of Jeffrey Lee Pierce in the room. What this Vancouver duo brings to the stage is just amazing. Brian King (guitar) and David Prowse (drums) create some music that is loud and over-sampled with ear-splitting, liquid electricity.
Japandroids are the epitome of minimalism, but the band put on a show that begged a packed house to actually believe there were only two dudes onstage. They reached back to the ends of emo when they built their sound – and if that weepy genre had kept its cool, this may be what it would have become. King and Prowse belted out foghorn-level guitar noise and driving rhythms while gushing with appreciation for this Denver audience.
King was pumped to play the duo’s entire catalog – including rarities like “Art Czars,” from an early seven-inch – alongside what have become anthemic hits, including “Nights of Wine and Roses,” “Fire’s Highway,” “Young Hearts Spark Fire” and an ecstatically stretched out “The House That Heaven Built.”
Early in the set, King quipped that their “… songs are super f***ing simple. If you don’t already know them, you probably know them by the second verse.”
He continued his goading with some references to our local NHL hockey team, and pointed out that if the season weren’t in lockout, he’d be “…throwing stuff at you, and you’d be throwing more shit up here.”
Later, he offered young musicians some solid advice: “If you’re afraid your band’s equipment is too shitty and looks stupid,” he said, “look how far we’ve come on shitty equipment that looks stupid!” In other words: never give up. This duo never did. And they made each tune feel like a marathon while they did it.