Published Apr 04, 2010Torontonians got a double dose of energized indie rock, with extra emphasis on the rock, thanks to the ingenious pairing of Polyvinyl label-mates Love Is All and Japandroids. The two bands have little in common — one, a poppy five-piece from Sweden; the other, a hard-rocking duo from Vancouver — but the diversity in their sounds was part of what made the two groups such a great pair. Of course, that both are excellent live performers didn't hurt either.
After Toronto's Two Koreas warmed up the crowd with some Wire meets Les Savvy Fav post-punk, Sweden's Love Is All took the stage, crowding the space with a couple of keyboards and a saxophonist to complement the standard guitar-drums-bass set-up. Over the course of their short career, the quintet have morphed from spazzy no-wave punks into hooky indie pop rockers. Similarly, they've honed their live show, finding a comfortable pocket in their ever-increasing groove.
Love Is All kicked things off with "Bigger Bolder" from the recently released Two Thousand and Ten Injuries then dipped back to their two previous efforts for "Talk, Talk, Talk, Talk" and "Wishing Well," displaying the usual exuberance that brings a nice bounce to their tunes. The band's short set kept the focus squarely on their new record, with its tracks making up half their set. While there were few complaints from the crowd, it was obvious that the night's headliners were the main attraction.
Kicking off with some slow riffing, Japandroids chatted up the crowd and bemoaned their upcoming U.S. tour before exploding into their two-man wall of sound with "The Boys Are Leaving Town." They followed up with start-stop rocker "Art Czars," then "Rockers East Vancouver." The duo — guitarist Brian King and drummer David Prowse — truly feed off each other's energy, as each song they played became more furious. The crowd reciprocated singing along and even crowd surfing throughout the set.
King introduced "Wet Hair" by explaining that the band had never played the song live in Canada before, a dubious claim given that the song is such a highlight of their record, Post-Nothing. Regardless, the crowd went nuts, and did so again when the set peaked with "Young Hearts Spark Fire."
Japandroids tried to finish with slow-jam "I Quit Girls" but decided to give the packed crowed two more songs, including a cover of Big Black's "Racer X." It was a bit anti-climactic, making a strong argument for the pair to start writing Post-Nothing's follow-up. But when the encore's weak because the main set was so awesome, you know a band's doing something right.