Friday, July 24, 2009

Japandroids + invites – July 14 at Club Lambi

Slim Twig
As I strolled into Lambi last Tuesday, Play Guitar were dismantling their gear, and in their place arose a single skinny white dude and a mass of pedals. To my delight (and thanks to ambiguity of "+ invites") this turned out to be Torontonian Max Turnbull, aka Slim Twig – who quickly summoned the crowd's spirit with a stream of rich backing beats, sermon-y sing-yelps and value-added live keyboard loops.

After about a half-hour of his freak-Dylan hip-hop routine, Slim finally picked up the Fender Jaguar he'd set aside at the beginning of the show, and closed with strongest (and loudest) tune of the evening. Maybe the former of his apparent influences deserves some more attention.

The hard-rockin'-and-oft-laughin' best friends from Vancouver, British Colombia, Canada took the stage and soon drove into a exhuberant "The Boys Are Leavin Town" – until the fresh, deep wound in drummer/singer David's right hand made his sticks too hard to handle. (He claimed it didn't hurt, but that all the blood made it impossible to grip anything.) After a couple more false-starts, someone (tour manager?) came onstage and bandaged him up real good, and nary was a stick dropped for the rest of the night. Still, it's not often that a percussionist keeps on keepin' on with such a bloody gash – which his better half, guitarist/vocalist Brian explained happened as they loaded in their gear that day. (Despite all the money saved on those pesky CD pressings, they're still touring sans roadie.)

Their willingness to play on may have been due to the pure joy of being back in their homeland, as Brian also reminded the crowd how lucky it was to live in Montreal instead of the middle-America they'd just escaped. As for the set, "Heart Sweats" reached new fist-pumping proportions, "Crazy/Forever" evoked more Sabbath than what's usually healthy (little), and "Wet Hair" rolled along with all its adolescent fervour. So yes, the hopefully-not-over-hyped west coasters delivered on their self-described "maximum rock."

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