Japandroids and Cloud Nothings verify punk’s not dead


Colin Yaccarino | Photography Editor

Japandroids performs spellbinding show at Republic New Orleans. They were joined punk group Cloud Nothings.

Republic New Orleans is a venue already well-lit with haunted chandeliers and Edison-style bulbs, but punk bands Cloud Nothings and Japandroids did the most to light the place last Friday.

Though the two bands operate within the same sub-genre of rock, their performance styles contrasted just enough to create the feeling of entirely separate shows joined together for one energy-filled night.

Cloud Nothings took the stage first with “Stay Useless,” a crowd favorite with a minimalistic chord progression and an upbeat tempo. From there, the band moved through its set with little breaks save an introduction of each member.

Dylan Baldi, the lead, delivered his trademark strained vocals while keeping a relaxed form. In fact, the entire band seemed stoic and focused, but not in a way that made the members inaccessible to the crowd. Rather, the performance felt like an invitation to feel angst along with the band.

Cloud Nothings followed most songs with two to three minutes of calculated noise; nothing ended where it was expected to end, instead phasing through instrumentals during which the band seemed to lose itself. At times only guitar feedback filled the high-ceilinged venue and yet the crowd remained tense, engaged and never bored.

Japandroids appeared following a 30-minute interlude of pre-recorded Rage Against the Machine songs. Later, lead singer Brian King explained that their tech guy in control of the aux cord was celebrating his 50th birthday and was gifted with control over the stereo (also, if anyone wanted to help him celebrate, they were encouraged to send a shot his way).

But first, Japandroids treated the crowd to a string of fast-paced tunes including “Near to the Wild Heart of Life,” which shares a name with their latest album.

Colin Yaccarino | Photography Editor
Japandroids is fronted by Brian King, who is the lead guitarist and singer. The band originally hails from Canada.

Following the relaxed vibe of Cloud Nothing’s set, Japandroids’ theatrics provided a stark contrast. King prepared for each song with a flutter of hand warm-up exercises and stretches.

He also switched guitars no less than seven times throughout the set, each guitar more colorful and marked-up than the last. The lighting perfectly matched each drum hit, uniting the venue and the stage.

And truly the audience was part of the performance; especially during “North East South West,” which features the line “N-O-L-A U.S.A.”

“We’ve been waiting all year to play that song here,” King said, as the crowd chanted the line loyally.

At 11:30, King announced that they were down to the last song.

“The sing-along factor in this one is high, so if you know it, join in,” he said, over a growing buzz of excitement for “The House that Heaven Built.” As the opening chords struck out, the mosh pit became more frenzied, the lighting more aggressive, and Japandroids themselves more energetic.

When King sang the chorus line “When they love you and they will,” the crowd religiously answered back “And they will!”

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