Culture, Live Reviews — January 25, 2013 at 11:01 am

Laneway Sneak Peek: JAPANDROIDS


What to expect from JAPANDROIDS this weekend at Laneway Singapore? Our guest writer Scott Murphy saw the band live in Hong Kong two days ago. Sneak peek, here you go!


Grappa’s Cellar
Hong Kong
January 23rd, 2013

“We thought there’d be about four people here and instead there’s 400!” said Japandroids lead singer Brian King midway through the group’s 17 song set at Grappa’s Cellar in Hong Kong.

It was his way of humbly thanking the near capacity crowd of hipsters, expats and a smattering of Asians in the know who were on hand to see the duo play their first gig of 2013, an ocean away from their Vancouver based home.

That so many had come out was surely due in large part to the group’s second album “Celebration Rock”, an infectious buzzsaw pop-rock 2012 critics’ favorite that plays as if it was recorded in a garage filled with Husker Du and Sonics fans.

For a two man group, they sure make a lot of noise. Forget the bass and the keyboards. Instead, King’s green and pink guitar is powered through three amps, which turn his quick riffing into a noisy squall that’s accompanied by David Prowse’s aggressive drum playing. Though they switched vocal duties on occasion, the full effect of the group’s power was felt on singles like “The Boys Are Leaving Town” when they both shouted out the chorus—one which isn’t so much a nod to the dangerous Thin Lizzy song as it is a bratty teen anthem.

After a debut album and tour which nearly saw the group break up, the group’s now well received sound seemed to bring out the humorous side in King. Throughout the night, he played the opening riffs from numerous Metallica songs before claiming that they were “works in progress from our next album”. And enthusiasm also got the better of him as at one point, as he even knocked over the amplifiers while getting a bit too excited in the middle of a guitar solo. The body surfing audience certainly didn’t mind during a show that was loud, raw and positively bursting with energy.

Concluding songs “Continuous Thunder” and “Sunshine Girls” seemed to indicate where the group could be headed. Anchored by a guitar sound resembling REM’s “Monster” era, the solid choruses carry an emotional weight that are miles away from the group’s rawer, more primal beginnings.

If the group is to bust out beyond their cult-like status, this is the direction they must continue going in in the future. But as a live act, they made certainly made inroads  during a show that was far more hyperactive raw energy than polished rock. The Hong Kong audience, it seemed, wouldn’t have it any  other way.


By Scott Murphy

Scott Murphy is Head Writer at SIREN FILMS – a HK based independent production and creative house.