Posted on 18 August 2010.
By now I’ve probably exhausted the fact that Neumo’s gets really hot. But Monday’s Tokyo Police Club show puts all those other shows to rest. I can easily say it reached over 100 degrees in that place. But what can you expect when Seattle was 90+ that day and Neumo’s is a completely black building? Thankfully my friend and I had grabbed a couple bamboo fans from my house before we left.
Like I said, Tokyo Police Club came to Seattle on Monday with openers Freelance Whales and fellow Canadians Arkells. I was surprised that there weren’t more people lined up outside the venue when I got there with half an hour to spare, but I was unaware that there had been an in-store down the street probably going on right as I got there at 7:30. But once I did get in line, I made some new friends, one of which had a camera similar to mine – a DSLR. It was her step dad’s camera, and when we got to the door, she was completely unaware that they weren’t going to let her in with it. She’d taken the ferry, so there was no car for her to put her camera in. After I made my way to the front of the stage, I waited to see if she’d gotten everything squared away. About ten minutes later, she walked through the door, camera in hand and a wristband just like mine.
“How’d you manage to get in?”
“The owner wasn’t going to let me in, but I was outside crying and I saw some people walk out from the venue and was like, ‘are any of you in the band?’”
She then told her story to Graham, the keyboardist from Tokyo Police Club, and being the cool guy that he is, he talked to their manager and got her name on the guest list so she could get a photo pass.
That made me smile so big, and the show hadn’t even started yet.
Right around 9 p.m., Arkells came out onstage and surprised me. I wasn’t aware that they were even playing that night, and they were really good garage rock, kind of a mix between local darlings The Lonely Forest and the early days of Rooney, with strong and driving pop hooks. A couple great songs in particular were “Ballad of Hugo Chavez” and “John Lennon” off their 2008 debut Jackson Square.
Arkells was remarkably energetic for how early it was in the evening, using Neumo’s small stage to their full advantage, even with 5 guys in the band. At one point, lead vocalist Max apologized for getting to the in-store late earlier that day, because Nick, the bassist, had been scouring the city for a Ken Griffey Jr. jersey. Sadly, he didn’t find one.
After a few more kicking tracks, Griffey got another shout out.
“We’re gonna snap. This is the first time this has been done in Seattle, are you ready?” Max asked the audience, raising his hands up to get ready to snap.
“Let’s get three snaps for Freelance Whales!” And we all snapped while the rest of the band let out three power chords.
“How about five for Tokyo Police Club?”
“Let’s give nine snaps for Ken Griffey!” This one got the most cheers.
And just to be cheeky, “And eleven for the dearly departed Super Sonics!” Then a resounding “awwwww” from the crowd while we all snapped eleven times.
During the intermission, some guy offered to buy me and my friend drinks if we let him use our fans. We didn’t take his offer of a drink, but let him borrow one of our fans for a few minutes. Those fans saved our lives, I’m pretty sure.
After Arkells’ strong set, the roadies unloaded the stage and reloaded it with several more instruments, including a watering can hanging off a keyboard, for Freelance Whales. I didn’t think that I would like Freelance Whales after I heard them the first time. I don’t normally like music that’s so…adorable, but the deep instrumentation is what pulled me in. Plus, I’m a sucker for a good banjo riff.
Freelance Whales, while a softer follower to Arkells, kept it interesting by switching instruments multiple times. At one point, Doris Cellar was playing the keyboards, then the far under-utilized harmonium. Chuck Criss would play the bass then the banjo. Kevin Read played guitar with a cello bow and then the glockenspiel. And that’s all but just a taste of the range of the band’s talent.
The room, however, had mixed feelings about Freelance Whales. There was a girl standing behind me that was screaming throughout their set, a guy next to me proclaimed his love for Doris, and then there were a few people up front who were just anxious to see Tokyo Police Club. It’s understandable, because their energy is far less in-your-face than Tokyo Police Club, or even Arkells, but I didn’t find them any less wonderful.
A few of my favorites of their set included “Hannah,” “Generator ^ First Floor,” and “Great Estates.” All of which were from their debut album Weathervanes, released on Frenchkiss Records this last April, which is awesome in its own right.
In all the broad instrumentation and shuffling around the stage, I never saw anyone beat on the watering can I mentioned earlier, but I may have missed it.
By the time Freelance Whales had finished their set, the air above the crowd was the usual hot and sweaty Neumo’s atmosphere, but the air beneath our chests was surely 110 degrees. I wanted to take my shoes off, but I feared major toe-stepping.
Once the fog machines had filled the room, making it even harder to breathe, that’s when everyone shoved their way to the front, decreasing the comfort level exponentially. I’m pretty sure I left at the end of the show with more sweat from other people on my back than my own.
The exuberant Canadians started out with “Favourite Colour” off their highly-awaited second album Champ. I have to say, frontman Dave Monks is only 23, but he’s got the charisma of someone much older than 23. Tokyo Police Club proved to be a really good time, even though I was getting battered from behind me. The band played through some old favorites like “Graves” and “Centennial” off Elephant Shell, and even “Box” off the Smith EP.
I particularly liked “End Of A Spark,” another new track. It had more mature hooks and heavier sound, but it was still completely Tokyo Police Club. Dave’s quirky voice and bass in the forefront of each track makes Tokyo Police Club’s sound much more than any indie pop-rock bands that came before them.
Waiting for one of my favorite songs, “Tessellate,” I endured the moshing going on behind me, but once it was over my friend and I made our way out to enjoy the rest of the show with a semi-constant flow of fresh air. As it was plenty warm outside at midnight, we stepped out for a minute and found at least a couple people who’d almost passed out inside the venue.
I guess that’s a testament to both Tokyo Police Club’s wicked energy and Neumo’s lack of proper ventilation.
As we were just about to walk back inside, our new friend with the photo pass walked outside.
“I was getting thrashed around in there. And when Dave saw, he leaned down and asked if I was okay. And then told the crowd to back off.”
Dave Monks has charisma and class.
Seeing that we’d expected there to be a couple more songs before the last song, we were surprised when we heard the opening riffs to “Your English Is Good,” which is my all-time favorite Tokyo Police Club song, so we ran back inside and rocked out before the encore.
Once the main set was over, a lot of people left. I thought, “Did we miss more than we thought? Was that the encore?”
It wasn’t, because a couple minutes later, the guys walked back out on stage, and started a familiar riff, but not a Tokyo Police Club song.
“My name is Jonas! I’m carrying the wheel. Thanks for all you’ve shown us, this is how we feel!”
A Blue Album-era Weezer cover? I think, yes.
Even though I was standing far off to the side of the stage, I was dancing around and singing along like it was 1995, and it was awesome. Not only was it vintage Weezer, but Tokyo Police Club pulled it off really well, and it got the room ready for what was to be the most fast-paced finale of a show I’ve experienced in a long time – “Cheer It On.” That song ended up being a giant sing-along dance party, which made the temperature raise 5 more degrees in the 2+ minute song.
I’m not even going to post the set list, because they rearranged it so many times during the show that it wouldn’t be accurate.
For fear of going on for forever, I’ll just say – Tokyo Police Club was a roarin’ good time. And they’re pretty nice guys, it turns out too.
For even more photos from that night’s show, head over HERE.