Folks expecting the Lifetime Collective to be the next big underground venue were disappointed at Friday night’s Japandroids show. The evening was, to be polite, a bit of a mess. With doors set to open at 9:00 p.m., seeing Liars’ early show at Venue before Japandroids seemed like a tight but possible option that many people took. Their rush to the venue, however, was ill-advised. The guy taking tickets at the door said the bands were prepped to go on at 10:30, 11:30 and 12:30. Ok, understandable, but 10:30 p.m. rolled past without any indication of progress for the night. The room they had us in was long and narrow, with a concrete floor and a bar, and it was packed. The washrooms were behind a screen directly behind the stage, which might not have been such a problem was the room not, again, so incredibly full. The drinks were basically just $5 Pabst, but with so little to do, it was hard to not have one too many (at least, for the crowd). No ins-and-outs didn’t help either. [ed. It was actually $5 everything, once that was realized switching to vodka Red Bulls seemed like a no brainer.]
At 11:30 p.m., No Gold took the stage as promised, with no indication of Babe Rainbow having even been there. Their set was performed ably, and grew on the audience over time. What started out as “let’s give our singer a drum and hope they don’t call him Avey” progressed to smooth, infectuous afro-pop that never fell into the trap of passing off working in an uncommon genre as originality. That being said, it was hard to not remember Listening Party opening for Japandroids’ last Vancouver show and think “Man, do these guys listen to any other type of band?”
Japandroids’ set began, at 12:30 with the crowd-stirring promise of the show being Post-Nothing‘s last hurrah with every track being represented. Great! Except… the last thing the crowd needed at that show was stirring. Given the first set’s mellow nature, tensions from the long wait were pushed down. As soon as Japandroids launched into “The Boys Are Leaving Town,” their expected show opener, a mix of discomfort, relief, frustration and sweat joined the two or three overpriced Jack-and-cokes most concert-goers had drank out of boredom. Again, normally, this wouldn’t have been that big a deal. The Lifetime Collective’s HQ proved again, however, to be woefully inadequate for any sort of real show. The Biltmore-esque stage left the band unprotected from the mosh pit, and invisible to anyone not in it. People would end up at the edge of the stage, get pushed from behind, and fall over on the one security guy in front of the stage. The band tried to calm everyone down early on after David Prowse’s mic and cymbals were knocked over onto him, but that was only a brief calm.
The band themselves were great. Vancouver’s first “Wet Hair” was a welcome treat, and the new single/cover combo of “Art Czars” and “Racer X” are bigger, angrier and more fun in person. The crowd seemed to thin out considerably as the set went on, though. It was that bad. In the lose-lose of wasting a night or staying in the building, many people chose the former. At the frenzy’s apex, in “Young Hearts Spark Fire,” the same guy tried to crowd surf three times, while one particular reviewer was knocked over backwards and hit his head on the hard concrete floor. So that was awesome. The first ever performance of “I Quit Girls” calmed them down though. Its performance answered the question of why it isn’t regularly performed: it’s too damn pretty for a rock show. After that, the crowd had a hard time reaching the energy it had earlier during set closer “To Hell With Good Intentions,” which seems the logical song to be a drunken idiot through. So, all in all, the power of rock was able to just barely salvage a night that seemed bent on making itself a complete train wreck. No one can blame Japandroids from the shortcomings of the Lifetime Collective, and the show was certainly one to see, provided you could put up with three hours of bullshit before it.