By: Evan Klein
My brain was having a hard time focusing. I was late to the venue. I was hungover like hell. I missed opener We Were Promised Jetpacks and I didn’t care. It was my birthday.
I’d never seen Tokyo Police Club before, not even a video. I thought I knew what I was gonna see based largely on hearing one song, “Be Good,” back in 2006. Which was a bitchin jam. I rocked the hell out of it. A lot. That first EP was something to get excited about. They seemed like a young Les Savy Fav. Twitchy, sick guitar riffage & up-fuckin-beat. Jumpy. Canadian. A slightly younger Japandroids was the image in my mind.
Well… they were young Canadians alright.
Smiley. Good-natured. Clean cut. Introduce em to grandma & grandpa – they’ll love em! They belt out a kind of menace-free sonic assault that really matched the Solana Beach crowd. It was comfortable. Everyone was curteous and encouraging. There was room to dance. There were cute blondes spazzing out in controlled and expected wiggles. Not one band member had a tattoo.
The sound was a little hollow and light at the start, beginning with “Cheer it On,” and it wasn’t really filling out the edges of the big space. But with each of the first four songs they kept shifting gears until they found their pocket…on what song????? “Be Good!” Of course! Also, this was when I had started my 2nd vodka tonic and had a few sparks of happiness and joy popping off in my brain. Coincidence? Yes. But the volume picked up and they hit the shit with energy and never looked back.
They controlled the pace like champs. They kept every face in the crowd happy. One space in between songs caught an exuberant woman shouting, “I WANNA BE THAT WATERBOTTLLLLE!!!!” at lead singer/bassist David Monks. And guess what? Everybody laughed and cheered. They make catchy, danceable pop rock jams that young folks are into, but don’t make them want to destroy others or themselves. It’s a little weird, but fun. Especially if you’re too old to take a beating in the pit and you had several too many drinks the night previous.
Fans loved it & sang along with most of their set. Standout jams were “Not Sick,” “Argentina” and “Bambi.” The ladies by me were really into “Toy Guns,” which was one of the few singles they announced before jumping in. The arpeggiator effect on “Frankenstein” did almost kill me, though, ripping through my ears with a painful tone. The initial set closer featured some sick and thoroughly epic riffs from guitarist Josh Hook on some frigging song I’d never heard before and now I can’t find anywhere on the web. I searched for like 30 minutes. If anyone was there and could tell me what the hell it was that would make me happy.
I don’t think you could catch these dudes on a bad night. They don’t get ripped. They don’t get pissed. They don’t make you wait long for the encore. The only way it breaks down is if the sound guy is hungover and passed out.
It’s 2016 now and the music these gents produce ain’t as cool & gritty as they promised on that first EP so long ago, but who cares, there’s plenty of those noises out there. This is more Phoenix and less Les Savy, and that’s okay. The guitarist is a wizard and he’ll make you forget that they ain’t as cool or gritty anymore.