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Live DC: Japandroids and DIIV @ Black Cat
December 10, 2012 | 1:15PM


“You call this a light show?” blurted DIIV’s frontman, Zachary Cole Smith. The guitarist of the jangly Brooklyn-based Beach Fossils — clad in an oversize Black Sabbath t-shirt and a fuck-all attitude — may have been miffed by the understated bulbs, but the
cacophany of sounds practically painted the walls in fuzzy hues of scarlet and sapphire.


The influx of indie pop bands with a penchant for reverb and a sound personifying the sand between their toes has gone up exponentially in the past three or so years. Yet DIIV plucks at the remnants of a well-versed musical education — spanning the likes of the spaced-out Faust, non-gimmicky surf rock and the reverbed immediacy of shoegazers like Slowdive — while remaining present and not caught in a high tide, as many of their contemporaries are.

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I walked in right as the band was midway through the sprawling “Air Conditioning,” and I knew right then that the buzz surrounding the foursome’s debut Oshin is well- deserved. Frontman Smith, whose vocals are less gossamer live, more of a distant
rumble resonating beneath the carefully threaded guitarwork, knows that he uncannily resembles a fresh-faced Kurt Cobain, snarl and all. Standouts from the set included “Wait” melting into a lovely “Follow”, increasingly raucous as the set unfolded and by comparison to the album, although it was over all too soon.


DIIV weren’t the only ones with the one-liners — coming on just before eleven o’clock, headliners Japandroids greeted the crowd with only a declaration: “We come in peace!” The super friendly introduction was a highly appropriate precursor to the duo’s aptly- named latest release, Celebration Rock.


Unlike DIIV, Japandroids’ light and smoke show amplified the room-shaking, stadium arena rock that the new album gravitates toward. Except in a much more awesome, intimate space — the Black Cat’s upstairs area felt more like a house party packed to the
brim. With a mosh pit growling in the middle of the floor at all times, I felt like I was in a friend of a friend’s basement, particularly during the fuzzed out “Wet Hair” — the danger of having a PBR spilled on me in the frenzy of it all was joyously present, and even welcome.

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At the core, Japandroids are two dudes from Vancouver who create solid rock, equal parts catchy and heady that can oscillate from heavy to infectious in a matter of moments. Most of the tracks from the kinetic hour and a half long set boosted the release of this year’s notable Celebration Rock, with “The Nights of Wine and Roses” in particular exemplifying the sentiment reverberating through the crowd: living, smoking and drinking, the wine and roses of our souls. That’s what’s good to live for.

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Japandroids Setlist:

1. Adrenaline Nightshift
2. Fire’s High
3. Art Czars
4. The Boys Are Leaving Town
5. The Nights of Wine and Roses
6. Rockers East Vancouver
7. Younger Us
8. Heart Sweats
9. Wet Hair
10. Evil’s Sway
11. To Hell With Good Intentions
12. The House That Heaven Built
13. Crazy/Foreign
14. Sovereignty
15. Continuous Thunder
16. Young Hearts Spark Fire
17. For the Love of Ivy




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