Japandroids, Canta Natal and Sound&Shape at The End 7/2/09



It's unspoken protocol at The End: Show up late and expect to stay late. (Weekdays be damned!) But last Thursday, that rule apparently didn't apply to garage punk duo Japandroids, who trekked down from Vancouver and were unexpectedly (even to the band) given one of the opening slots. On the one hand, this made for a no-fuss show without having to wait out a couple unknowns, but it was pure luck that we didn't miss out on more when we sauntered in at the tail end of their first song. But no harm, no foul, because these guys fucking tore the joint up.

If their opener was some unknown from one of the band's pre-Post-Nothing EPs-- slated for a broader re-release later this year--the crowd got exactly what the $5 admission bought them when "The Boys Are Leaving Town" burst through the amps next. It almost didn't matter that half of the Japandroids' set consisted of early and virtually unheard material. When guitarist Brian King wailed his terse lyrics into the mic, scraping ear-bleeding riffs alongside David Prowse's nakedly aggressive drum rolls, their energy was outright contagious.

As many times as King scrambled for some punchy interlude or screamed mic-less over the distortion, with Prowse taking only a quick breath or swig of water between songs, it's a wonder these guys didn't make one noticeable slip-up. So as "Rockers East Vancouver" gave way to "Heart Sweats," and "Crazy/Forever" was capped off with "Sovereignty," the audience was just getting primed as they cleared the stage. Easing down from that power-chord-induced adrenaline rush into father-son duet Canta Natal--marking their very first and very shaky public appearance--felt more than a little awkward.

Despite constant petitions from King for the crowd to stick around, the rabble of bobbing heads had thinned out to but a few friends by the time Canta Natal had even performed a mic check. After a courteously brief set alternating between coffeehouse rock and Chicago blues, Sound&Shape's meticulously crafted sonics quickly blasted through the abnormal quiet that had settled over The End's scant patrons. Fusing '80s axe-grinding from frontman Ryan Caudle with the trio's prog-ish bend-- with drummer Jerry Pentecost's flailing limbs and sporadic stick flips between cymbal splashes--the band hammered out one exhausting tune after another.

In the shadow of the Japandroids, though, it was hard to see these two bands as little more than a good try. For those few who did stay out the night, it's just too damn hard to keep from humming about those sunshine girls.

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