Let’s consider it a warm-up for the Gig of Big, and why not?
Good Friend Rory and I played Criss-Cross on this one, I got him a ticket for the Joy Formidable a few weeks back, and he got me one for the Japandroids. And both were in the lovely historic Turner Hall venue, one of the best places to see (or be) a band in this fair city.
I was not familiar with the opening band, A Place To Bury Strangers, but a quick visit to YouTube and eMusic convinced me this was well within my wheelhouse. So the early exchange of texts with Rory was:
I would like to see the opening band
dunno what they sound like
kind of a mix of Joy Division and Jesus/Mary Chain
Keep me updated
OMFG THESE GUYS ARE SO FUCKING GOOD
…on my way.
..holy shit I can hear them from a block and a half away.
I was reminded of a Jello Biafra spoken word piece, where he talked about the first time he saw the Ramones: “They played one chord — ONE CHORD! — and I knew they would be a FUCK of a lot louder than we ever expected”. And when the opening band came out, and the bass player started playing the MOST distorted bass I have ever heard, I knew the same thing and I started to think that claiming a table on stage right 12 feet in front of the PA stack may not have been the ideal choice.
But when they started playing, it started to resonate. The noise and feedback became a counterpoint to the rain and cold outside. The lights played across the distressed interiors of the Hall, and the sound became the air that we were breathing. And the lights were focused back into the hall, highlighting the 100+ year old structure….Turners always were about spreading culture and music.
The guitarist even ventured into Peter Gabriel territory, pulling a strobe out of the front and jamming it into his guitar, so the sputtering of the ballast would interfere with the pickups to create a new frontier in feedback.
Whew. That was quite an intro, wasn’t it? The bartenders would have been well served to have a “speaking board” handy, so they could understand what people wanted without screaming. Of course, I have a decent bellow, and had no problem in communication.
The Japandroids were, of course, stupendous. It was their first Milwaukee appearance (and they kind of aplogized for skipping the gig) but nobody held that against them. And in the end, they played a rare encore [challenging Bob, the light tech, to fill in for a song that he had no programming for][and for which Bob did a hella good job but I get ahead of myself]
Oh my. SilentMike, dude, you often talk about the ability of the Figgs to be the loudest, fullest three member live band? Dude, you needed to be here, because this was a LOUD full amazing band performance of a TWO PIECE band. Oh gosh, did they ever.
The noise of the opening band was something that levered open my tightly closed skull. And the Japandroids took that wedge, and used it to lay bare all those old soul aspects, the ones that respond to art and music and science.
For Canadians, they may not be as RAWK as the Great Trinity of Rush (who, of course, are part of the Fest)
But holy fuck , they still rock like hell. And they rocked a lot of my head.
Of course, it is very important that my head be properly cleansed for onset of The Fest. And in some ways, it seems appropriate that a bunch of Canucks do so.
Of course, there is also an episode of Brooklyn geeks to make sure:
Friday, Friday, we’re gonna be geek rocking on Friday…