Published Oct 28, 2013Four years ago, Japandroids closed out Halifax Pop Explosion with a too-short set at the Paragon (Brian King was ill and the band went on late because of it) that was still one of the more memorable gigs in the fest's modern history. With a crowd that refused to leave, the band returned to play one more heroic song, well after curfew, with the house lights on and everyone's fists pumping in the air.
Saturday night's Japandroids set required no such dramatics, but it felt momentous all the same. Playing to one of the festival's largest crowds, the Vancouver duo were treated like returning heroes, with the audience's energy spiking from the moment the opening chords of "Adrenaline Nightshift" kicked things off. Sounding as colossal as ever, the band ripped through its songbook of huge riffs and throat-ripping sing-alongs with jubilant force, the crowd responding in kind. At times, King's singing fought to keep pace, but the crowd was more than willing to lend a helping vocal chord or two.
"This is going to be our last show in Canada for a long, long time," said King. (The band has only a handful of tour dates scheduled at the moment, and they're in South America.) Rather than wearied by winding down a year-and-a-half of touring for Celebration Rock, King and drummer David Prowse seemed passionately committed to once again capping off the festival. The energy in the room built and built through the hour-plus set until "The House That Heaven Built" just exploded. Standing just on the outskirts of the mosh pit as those opening chords burst through the amplifiers, I dove in: it was the sort of moment that demanded full, unbridled participation.
A couple songs later, after a few goodbyes, the houselights came up, revealing endless piles of crushed-up Coors cans and a smiling, satisfied horde of people. For the second time in their career, Japandroids had helped bring HPX to a glorious end.