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Liner Notes

The catharsis of attending concerts and crowds

Japandroids play a great rock show

There was a time, not all that long ago, when the idea of a concert going all night wouldn't give me anxiety about getting enough sleep for work the next day, and the idea of jumping around with a bunch of strangers wouldn't make me tired hours before the show even started.

That's aging, I suppose.

So even though I was excited to go see the purest rock band around, Japandroids, at the Gothic Theatre on March 7, the fact that the show didn't start until 9 p.m. (and that was just the opener, mind you) almost caused me to not go.

But three hours later, I spilled out of the venue fierce, alive and fired up — all after-effects of the high that only a really great live show can give you.

A brief primer — Japandroids is the Vancouver-based duo of Brian King on guitars and lead vocals and David Prowse on drums and backing vocals. Over the course of three albums, they have perfected a kind of anthem rock that owes as much to The Replacements as Bruce Springsteen. Their songs are filled with what King playfully referred to as "sing-along factor" several times during the performance — "oh yeahs" and "alrights" that sound fantastic when shouted by an audience having the time of their lives.

The band's most recent album, "Near to the Wild Heart of Life," is its most adventurous and layered work yet — a celebration of love, the open road and the unlimited possibilities of being alive. It has taken some flack because this joyful noise was released a week after Donald Trump was sworn in as president, ushering in a time when many feel anything but hopeful about the future. When you're feeling scared or sad, music that explodes out of your speaker can often be the exact opposite of what you may want to hear.

But looking out on the sea of people shouting along the lyrics with their hands in the air, I was reminded that music doesn't need to be political or topical to accomplish a vital goal — bringing people together.

This magic ability was emphasized by show-opener and leader of The Hold Steady, Craig Finn, who commended the audience for ignoring the many, many things in modern society that keep us at home instead going to a rock show.

"You're seeing old friends, or making new ones," he said. "Being together is the big thing."

As I felt myself get swept up in the music with my fellow concertgoers, the truth of this became thrillingly clear. None of us were shouting at each other about what the government was or wasn't doing, or looking at each other with distrust. Every time my eyes met another's, we were both smiling, and we were all speaking the same words. United.

So take a moment to go out to a concert or movie or a gallery, and experience art with other people. It doesn't have to be this kind of music, although the catharsis that comes from a really loud rock show cannot be overstated. It's just something you enjoy, that you can experience with others.

And take the advice of Japandroids in their song, "In A Body Like A Grave":
"So break the bank like you're breaking a bill
And love so hard that time stands still
If your name is shame, though your love is loss
Swap the city's lights for the southern cross
Gather the gang and make that night."

Clarke Reader's column on how music connects to our lives appears every other week. A community editor with Colorado Community Media, he knows what the nights of wine and roses hold. Check out his music blog at calmacil20.blogspot.com. And share your favorite concert experiences at creader@coloradocommunitymedia.com.


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