Live Concert Review

Against Me!, Japanther, Saint Alvia

Live (September 12th, 2008)

Edmonton Event Centre - Edmonton, Albert




So the fall concert season has finally started, and it looks as if it will be the first solid concert season of the year. It started with the likes of Rancid and was quickly followed up by this show; a show who’s headlining act has received some of the most polarizing reactions in recent memory. Everyone seems to either hate them or love them. Of course, I’m talking about Against Me!, a band who has been making waves over the past two years with each and every one of their actions being carefully scrutinized and analyzed by the ever loving message board society. Their cross Canada tour made equally as many waves, however their fans were still out in full force as the band started closing in on the tour’s end; and those who were there were treated to a pretty entertaining punk rock show.

Burlington, Ontario’s Saint Alvia were first up and they began their set in a very unique way: by letting a university professor introduce them. Gordon Laxer came on to promote a protest that was happening the following day and raise awareness for the Security and Prosperity Partnership of North America. Unfortunately for him, most of what he said went understood and while people were happily chanting “down with Bush” – very few actually knew why they were chanting it. As Laxer left the stage the six piece started their actual set with a nice mixture of songs from both their recently released Between The Linesalbum and their self-titled debut. Hitting tracks like Between The Lines, Blonde Kryptonite, Americafioso, Don’t Wanna Wait Forever and Business as UsualSaint Alvia played a solid set that saw them showing off their idea of a genre-free rock band.

The band were strong enough to attract numerous fans to their merch table afterwards and would probably pull a good crowd back again when they next travel through town. That’s much more than what can be said for the following band, Japanther, who were actually painful to listen to. They came on with a decent concept: a bassist, a drummer and a mass amount of sampling with vocals sang through microphones that looked like old school telephones. The Brooklyn duo were set to be memorable – and they were, just not in the right limelight. They focused way too much on distorted, industrialized vocals and the use of those previously mentioned samples. The drummer, who attempted to pump up the crowd by swearing and raising his hands up, simply faked drumming through any of the complicated drum beats and instead let the pre-recorded audio do all the work and the only time anyone from the crowd got really into it was when they started a Ramones cover. But that only lasted the “hey ho! lets go!” part before they split off into another distorted song with no appeal. Its very rare that I would avoid seeing a band live again, but Japanther are one of those bands.

Luckily, Against Me! made up for the Brooklyn’s mishap and stormed the stage with confidence and intensity. Opening with New Wave, the band played most of their major label debut – in fact they only skipped out on Animal and The Ocean as once again James took over Tegan Quinn’s role in Borne On The FM Waves of The Heart. The band didn’t forget their fans who had been there from the start either as they played some rousing renditions of Pints of Guiness Make You Strong, Jordan’s First Choice, Walking Is Still Honest, This Shit Rules, Cliche Guevara, Miami, Don’t Lose Touch and From Her Lips to God’s Ears (The Energizer). Like always, the band opted not to speak, but instead just sang with as little banter as possible. After a demand for an encore, Tom Gable came on and debuted one of his new solo songs, Amputations. It would’ve been nice to have heard Anna Is A Fucking Stool Pigeonor I Can’t See You But I Know You’re There but either way it was still a good way to kick off the encore which also featured Sink Florida Sink, Up The Cuts, and We Laugh At Danger (And Break All The Rules).

Against Me! were as tight as ever, put on a solid show with energy and conviction. However, with a bigger venue came more people; and with a major radio single came more people who don’t normally go to concerts. This made the show slightly less memorable than, say, a year and a half ago at the Dinwoodie Lounge which saw the band playing to 600 people instead of 1,700. Then again, you can’t blame the band for some annoying crowd members.

Japanther Stream New Album / Tour

JapantherBrooklyn’s lo-fi noise punks Japanther have released a stream of their latest album  on their soundcloud page. Eat Like Lisa, Act Like Bart was released back in May via Lauren Records.

The duo are also out on the road now in support of the record. Full dates below.



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Japanther - Tut Tut


Tut Tut Now Shake Ya Butt

Wantage USA

Rating: 1.5/5




In the last few months, Japanther has become a sort of inside joke with my friends and I. Ever since we saw them open for Against Me! in September, we all agreed that they were one of the worst bands we had seen live. Despite coming on with a cool stage presence and some of the most inventive microphones we had ever seen, the music and their show did not impress us. We found their stage persona arrogant and cheesy and their music was weak with too much emphasis put on samples and the use of a drum track despite there being a drum set on stage (it seemed as if the drummer was pretending to drum during some parts of their set). Yeah, it was bad.

Imagine my surprise when I moderately enjoyed the first song on Tut Tut Now Shake Ya Butt (well, first song if you skipped the dismal spoken word introduction). It’s not that Um, Like Your Smile Is Totally Ruling Me was a great song, but it was catchy enough to listen all the way through. There was something in the incredibly distorted vocals that just sounded better on the recording than they did live. The thump of the bass along with the beat of the drum filled the song with a steady rhythm that was actually rather memorable and enjoyable. I thought that maybe, just maybe, there was hope for them yet.Bumping Rap Tapes came next and while it wasn’t as good, it didn’t feel as painful as they were live. It was a bit poppier with electronic beats and staccato drum parts and catchy vocals.

But soon enough Japanther went downhill and Tut Tut Now Shake Ya Butt became unbearable and sleep educing. The horror came in the form of Africa Seems So Far Away, an essentially spoken word rant that lasts over ten minutes in length. TEN MINUTES! Ten minutes of just gloomy, haunted vocals telling a story over a constant bass drum and occasional high hat. It was boring and painful and instantly brought Japanther back into the realm of running jokes.

The New York duo do redeem themselves with The Dirge, a song I actually remember enjoying when they played live that sounds just as good here with a closing couplet of “I love you, no matter where you spend the night. You can always come back to me because I’m nothing and you are everything” being repeated over and over again. But that shining moment soon fades out as just two songs later they bust out yet another long, boring and painful tribunal spoken word song, The Indigene. At nine minutres, that too lasts way too long and they never recover again. The distorted chant of “1,2,3,4 Fuck The Cops” onRadical Businessman can’t do it and neither can Before The Sun Goes Down.

So yeah, there’s two songs on here that sound pretty good but two songs is not enough to make the record listenable. Plus, no matter how good those two songs could ever be, they could never make up for over twenty minutes of monotonous samples and spoken word “songs”. It’s safe to say that they’ll remain an inside joke for a few more months until we forget them all together.