Avi Buffalo were on the Grog Shop stage before Japandroids last night, looking young and meek at first. The members of the four-piece Long Beach group are barely out of high school. Yet as soon as their fingers touched their instruments, age was just a number.
The structures of Buffalo’s songs resemble a spider with nine and a half legs. As strange as it seems, the extra appendages accentuate the spider’s greatest strengths. Frontman Buffalo’s (real name: Avigdor Zahner-Isenberg) extra legs are the mini guitar breakdowns he inserts between verse and chorus. When Buffalo starts soloing in odd places, it messes with typical pop structures, but it’s a welcome change and an interesting new direction.
Japandroids' second dead-on Cleveland performance of the past half-year blew minds and eardrums alike. Drummer David Prowse and guitarist Brian King created the same energy they did in October at Now That’s Class. This time, the audience was three times the size. Ringing power chords and cymbal-heavy percussion radiated back and forth between the two Vancouver buddies as they played every song off their debut album, Post-Nothing.
If it wasn’t already, “Young Hearts Spark Fire” became the anthem for youth angst. Thrusting their bodies toward the stage, Cleveland fans made it loud and clear. The entire crowd screamed fervently, “I don’t wanna worry about dying/I just wanna worry about those sunshine girls.”
A few new tracks also made their way into the set. “Darkness on the Edge of Gastown” and “Art Czars” are quintessentially “Japandroidsian.” In other words, they’re low-fi garage rock that sounds scummy as hell.
“Heart Sweats” was a show highlight, if only for the interplay between King and Prowse. King stopped to tune his guitar in the middle of the song, joking with the audience that his talent lies in making us believe the screw-up was part of the plan.
When King nudged Prowse to start back-up, the two took turns jesting each other, until King gleefully shouted that he was going to need a countdown.
That kinship is what makes Japandroids' live shows so compelling. That, and, uh, the sheer number of amps they use. And the way the two of them are always completely attuned to each other’s movements. And … do I really need to go on? —Danielle Sills