Japandroids set is a chaotic mess at Smalls

Written by Scott Mervis on .

JapandroidsBreathless and high-spirited, last year's "Celebration Rock" lived up to every word, every letter of its title.

When you see the billing for Japandroids live, you wonder, 'Could they possibly take it up another level?" -- which is, after all, the point of a concert.

Sunday night at Mr. Smalls, Japandroids was as bad as the album is great. You could tell from the first minute of "Adrenaline Nightshift" that something was off.

It's not for lack of energy. Singer-guitarist Brian King looked sweaty before he even played a note, and he and drummer David Prowse hit the ground running. Somehow, it just didn't click. It's easy to blame the room, but the sound has been great inside the old church for other shows, including last week's Alt-J (which, by contrast, was woefully short on energy).

There was too much bottom in Japandroid's mix, effectively dragging down the songs. Maybe the Vancouver duo needs a third or fourth member to pull this off. Maybe Prowse was mixed too high. Maybe he was just too chaotic. Kristy K may have nailed it when she tweeted to me "The guys don't seem to be in sync with each other."

Where songs like "Fire's Highway" and "The Nights of Wine and Roses" should have shot off like the fireworks on the record, they just kind of went off sideways and fell to the ground.

I sensed the same thing watching the Coachella stream in April, from the sound and the crowd reaction. People didn't seem to moving the way they should, and the same thing happened Sunday night. The looks on people's faces was a mix of excitement, confusion and disappointment.

The White Stripes, Black Keys, No Age and others have made the duo thing rock. Based on this show, we can't add Japandroids to that list. 


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