TRAVIS’ Night Out: Julian Casablancas, Japandroids & The XX

Part of the delicious light show from The xx.

I know Easter is about family and chocolate bunnies. And this year I failed at both, but added something else. Concerts. Three nights of concerts in lieu of seeing my family. (Apologies, my dear family.) But with near-perfect completely unseasonable weather, and three tickets resting in my paws, I had to fill my crooked habit of incessant concert-going. Alas, it was a good.

Friday night, Mr. Julian Casablancas — that slack-jawed, leather jacket-wearing frontman of The Strokes — ventured to the Kool Haus to play from his new solo collection, Phrazes for the Young. It wasn’t mind-blowing as one might expect, but it was loud (almost reverb loud) and fun. If you weren’t familiar with Casablancas’ work, though, it might have been somewhat confusing. But the hooks and melodies were spot on. Also, something I wasn’t expecting, Mr. Apathetic was oddly personable and quite pleasant with the Toronto crowd. Saying he might have more fans in Canada and that he loved Toronto. I know, every freakin’ musician says this, but it kind of resonated for some reason as he continually said, “I mean this.” Well, I mean this, Casablancas, Never have the Funeral Party open for you again. They need to get rid of that atrocious Chemical Romance-esque lead singer. Just abhorred. Go away and stop shouting.

Flash over to Saturday night, and the rowdy Vancouverites known as Japandroids hit up Horseshoe Tavern. Ah, these guys just put smiles on everyone’s faces. Loud, rambunctious, intense, fun, wild, ridiculous, hair tossing and sweaty. That’s Japandroids. And that’s awesome. Nice surprise, though, was that the loveable opener from the hills of Sweden, Love is All, is brilliant. Catchy, unique and more catchy. I like. Check them.

And then the concert everyone has been hyped on for months. The xx. JJ, the second opener, is strange and beautiful. A melodic voice and nice blonde locks was solid, but the crazed back-up, quasi-boyfriend fool sometimes strumming away on his acoustic guitar needs to stop. But for the most part, he was just drug-addled and stumbling around stage when he wasn’t trying to make out with JJ. Odd, but interesting I guess. She also had a somewhat artistic film piece playing behind her as crazed boyfriend tried to make out with her.

The xx were what one might have hoped for. Spot on with their notes, like right on. I have heard that they were a little wobbly in past shows because they were so new, but extensive touring and hype has done them well. The Brits sounded just like the vinyl, but did deviate to add in flourishes and mix it up. The light show — something needed with such a ambient band — was mesmerizing. They actually opened as silhouettes behind a full-stage white cloth. It was unique and it worked. It all worked. And although they have a great, original sound, one wonders how much variety they will be able to bring down the road. No matter, as it’s intensely beautiful and palpable now.

More awesome light show from The xx at the Phoenix.

The xx playing as silhouettes behind a white curtain. It was badass.


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