“It’s good to be back,” sings Tokyo Police Club’s Dave Monks on "Breaknewck Speed" from their second albuim Champ.
Last year’s Grog Shop show was stunted by the absence of Monks, and their debut album failed to retain the massive blog-buzz the Canadian band had accumulated from the A Lesson in Crime EP (from 2006).
These are the same guys that once had a cameo on Desperate Housewives. Success often precedes artistic progress but, over the weekend, spring-boarding off the strength of their comeback album and support dates for Passion Pit, it was good to have them back at Grog Shop on a headlining tour.
Frankly, after openers Safari and Freelance Whales, indie-rock fans were eager for affirmation that the genre isn’t dying. After all, Freelance Whales are little more than the art-school version of Good Charlotte, and all the harmoniums, glockenspiels, banjos, and synths in the world couldn’t save us from their hyped-on-Mountain-Dew folk-pop affectations. (Or maybe those are the same instruments that doomed us from the start.)
If Justin Bieber grew up listening to Arcade Fire and Death Cab for Cutie, this twee music for the kids would be the end result. While they might not be as repulsive as Owl City — with lyrics that urge “Please don’t be a player hater” — they are at least in the Owl Suburbs.
Cue Tokyo Police Club to the stage. Monks was wearing an Aerosmith T-shirt, and if they took any advice from the band that wrote “Dude (Looks Like a Lady),” it’s that they stuck to their hits. That means performing ten of 11 Champs tracks and the better of their earlier material.
Ecstatic to be in the position to play a bulk of their best work yet, the band sounded tremendous, invoking the crowd to the occasional singalong on “Wait Up (Boots of Danger” and rhythmic handclaps (take your pick). It was all the appropriate dose of post-Strokes songwriting. Tokyo Police Club finally delivered on a 16-minute promise four years ago, and they know it.
Before the show, Tokyo Police Club held their "Champ Championship," in which fans challenge the band to a competition of their choosing. However, after the show, I witnessed a drunken bro at Jimmy John’s stuffing a sub sandwich down his shorts to smuggle it into Panini’s next-door. What a Champ. —Michael Tkach
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