While perhaps a forgotten memory to many Americans, our friendly nation to the north, Canada, once burned down our White House. Proving history can repeat itself, a mostly Canadian line-up (Arkells, Tokyo Police Club), and some Brooklynites (Freelance Whales), stormed the nation’s capital once again at the Black Cat Club in downtown DC. While the torch-fire was ostensibly missing, the amazing light show and raw energy made sure that sparks were flying.
In looking for a solid opener, Tokyo Police Club could not have done better with their gem of a find, Arkells. While the band may not yet have garnished their much-deserved recognition in the states, with sets like this it shouldn’t be long. Their songs invoke tales of working-class heroes, so titles such as “John Lennon” come as no surprise along with “Oh, the Boss is Coming!”, “No Champagne Socialist” and “The Ballad of Huge Chavez.” Yet, they displayed no disruptive balance of power, instead providing a glimpse of refreshing band camaraderie, with guitarist Mike DeAngelis often roaming the stage to confront others in playful on-stage duels. After closing the set, it was apparent it would be a battle for those who were to follow.
Freelance Whales took to the stage next, playing a solid set comprised of a literal musical chairs, as they constantly switched amongst their armory of instruments. The band did have one thing missing, the musical apparatus that has attained a cult-like status amongst fans: a silver tin watering can. FW sound similar to many bands you’ve already heard, often drawing comparisons to Passion Pit or the Postal Service, an appropriate evaluation as they could deviate to either fates: current sensation or one-record wonders. FW plays to the present phenomenon of artsy-folk-instrumental-synthetic-pop-rock and it seems what will come to be their greatest hurdle is not just being a great copy of all the Sufjans and Gibbards before them, but a new reinvention that seems relevant not just reformed.
As the lights exploded color and outlined shadows of the four-some appeared, pandemonium erupted. For the band that promised “a way to celebrate”, Tokyo Police Club did not disappoint. They tore onto the stage with ‘Favourite Colour’ followed by ‘Nature of the Experiment’ and ‘Not Sick’. TPC is a band made to be seen live and they truly did what they know best. Allowing for little chatter between songs, the Canadian rockers ripped through years of our collective memories at breakneck speed. For those younger in the audience, TPC’s lyrics read like an unrealized cautionary tale; for others it serves as a memoir. Backed by a stellar band and a magnetic front man, TPC’s performance shows why they are one of the best reads out on the market. While it has yet to be seen if their relevance can withstand the years, TPC are happy where they are now, ‘happy to be back’, and it’s a happiness that can’t help but be contagious. And as the crowd left etched with smiles, one thing was clear. History can repeat itself, even with the absence of fire and a building colored black, Canadians most certainly can still bring down the house.
Tokyo Police Club Set List:
Nature of the Experiment
End of a Spark
In a Cave
Citizens of Tomorrow
Wait up (Boots of Danger)
Your English is Good