The Mark of Excellence

Japandroids / DIIV

The Phoenix, Toronto, ON, December 11

> > Dec 12 2012

Japandroids / DIIV - The Phoenix, Toronto, ON, December 11
Photo: Sarah Murphy
By Sarah MurphyFiling out and rushing through a quick soundcheck, Brooklyn's DIIV seemed to have rolled off a tour bus and right on stage, but it didn't stop them from delivering some seriously dreamy pop. Bouncing around the stage looking like a baby-faced Kurt Cobain, frontman Zachary Cole Smith led the group through a number of whimsical, instrumental-heavy cuts from their debut Oshin. Tracks like "Human" and "How Long Have You Known?" made appearances in the short opening set, though the solid string of jangly pop songs gave no indication of what was up next.

Arriving back on Canadian turf after a four-month stint on the road and shooting to the top of year-end lists, Japandroids' Brian King and David Prowse were given a hero's welcome by the at-capacity venue. Approximately three seconds after the opening chords to "Adrenaline Nightshift" were struck, a mosh pit erupted at the front of the stage and didn't die down at all throughout the night.

It's a testament to the Vancouver duo's music that they can get Toronto's too-cool twenty-somethings to abandon all dignity and reclaim their youth through a body-packed pit. But that's kind of what Japandroids are all about. Despite only being on the radar for a few years — and now turning 30 — they've managed to capitalize on reliving a collective youth with songs about drinking too much, leaving their hometown and making out with French girls in France. No songs capture this better than "Wet Hair" and "Younger Us," which were both set highlights.

Lesser-played gems like "Art Czars" and "To Hell with Good Intentions" got their turn in the setlist, while a steady stream of stage divers flew through the venue at the band's request. "The House That Heaven Built," from this year's Celebration Rock, proved to be the most anthemic song of the night, despite a pause in the middle where King hilariously reminded stage crashers to use their "10 fucking seconds" and get off the stage.

Post-Nothing favourite "Heart Sweats" also incited a massive sing-along, while the closest thing Japandroids have to a slow jam, "Continuous Thunder," slowed the pace down before "Young Hearts Spark Fire" and the Gun Club's "For the Love of Ivy" closed the night with a bang.

The big, sold-out venue and flashier-than-usual light show made it easy to see how far Japandroids have come, even in the last year. Despite claims that their voices and bodies had been mangled by the latest tour, the pair delivered a hard-hitting, awesome-sounding, really fucking fun rock show — and that is more than worthy of a celebration.

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Awesome show, thanks Droids!
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