Thunders pilfered the boozy, drugged-out squall of punk pioneers The Stooges and the serene, feedback laden fuzz of noise-pop Gods Jesus and Mary Chain when they formed and haven’t looked back. There’s little to complain about there. While I can’t say I’m a fan of singer Ryan Reidy’s sometimes grating drawl, he’s a good front man, and writes a good song to boot.
Thunders was an ideal opener for a show like this one. After all, both Japandroids and Thunders could easily be categorized as “garage rock,” and trade in noisy, histrionic blasts of guitar feedback. Thunders brought plenty of that.
While Reidy’s songs and guitar work lay the foundation for the band’s live show, lead guitarist Mark Tester (also of Burnt Ones) is the star of the show, routinely helping to frame Thunders’ powerhouse punk attack with bursts of melodic guitar parts. He’s restrained, which is what makes the whole thing work.
About halfway through Avi Buffalo’s set, I leaned over to a friend and said “this dude sings like Joanna Newsome.” We had the same thought. The band hails from Long Beach, Calif., and transmits sunshine and good vibes through their music.
One of the challenges in reviewing a relatively unknown act from a city you’ve never visited is straining to capture the band’s music in your head, or on your notepad. That wasn’t a problem with Avi Buffalo. The band is a tight unit, with a stately, workmanlike presence on the drums, solid work on the bass and subtle, effective work on second guitar and keys. They rarely rose to any degree of grandiosity, rarely showed off and rarely tackled anything they couldn’t handle.
Which is why the last song blew me away so much. Nearly twice the length of any of their other songs, this epic, full of grandiose guitar solos, virtuosic work on the drums and a generally rousing, anthem-like feel to it.
Look for Avi Buffalo next time they come around.
I felt sorry for Japandroids. Playing in Indianapolis for the first time and surely wanting to show of their live prowess, the band absolutely got shellacked with technical difficulties from the beginning, preventing guitarist Brian King from fully achieving the guitar sound found on the band’s stunning first full-length “Post-Nothing.”
Still, once he settled down, and stopped worrying about whatever the problem was, the band’s kinetic, white-hot garage punk sound came out in full. For a while, as the band played a song, only to end it and fiddle with amps and guitar chords for 10 or 15 minutes, I thought I was watching a train-wreck. But eventually they recovered.
All of the band’s best songs — “Wet Hair,” “The Boys Are Back in Town,” “Crazy/Forever” — sounded fantastic and full of energy. Both King and drummer David Prowse are incredibly energetic performers, King jumping and running across stage, Prowse leaning back and forth, arms flailing. During the climactic penultimate song, “Young Hearts Spark Fire,” the boys sparked a massive sing-along, 100-some sweaty bodies with their arms in the air, screaming along with them.
That’s how to give a performance. Forget the technical difficulties and just play.