Drumming, rolling in from off the stage, into the floor, back up through it again, jostling your bones, mishandling your head. A feeling like lying in the sand near the ocean, waves pounding, or standing in a block of flats as they’re being demolished. The two drummers at The Garage were hard at work, force going from their bodies into microphones, moving the crowd, vibrating our eyes.
Dasher’s Kylee Kimbrough was terrifying in all good ways: a John Bonham thunderer who held together the explosion of sound of which she was the centre. That her lead vocals were turned down, level with the instruments, meant that she had to shout even harder to be heard below them, her body contorting in minimal lighting that was sometimes aimed directly at our eyes, blinding and startling us as she stood behind her kit to gain an extra bit of force, twisting, keeping time.
Theirs was a short, sharp set, feedback from its last song having no time to fade away before the next crashed into it: a churning, violent, spiked affair, primal and deliberate, angry and controlled and very, very good. Kimbrough never gave herself over to rapture or conviviality; the closest thing to banter was a muttered ‘we have T-shirts for sale’. The younger audience members pushed their way further forward, keen to be closer; someone older with a mohawk looked on, generally unimpressed.
Japandroids’ David Prowse was no less powerful, but would barely meet the precedent set for him. A serviceable beat-keeper and innovator, he came into his own only rarely, mainly supporting the thriving guitar and vocals which towered beside him. The duo’s songs were well-presented, wares displayed politely, a full range from three albums of runners and writhers leading up to newest should-be single North East South West. I wasn’t that fussed about much of it, if I’m honest.
The crowd was electrified, but at its heart this was a fans-only affair: powerful to be amongst its core, witnessing their loving it, thrilling as their heroes came back for a we-never-do-encores encore that saw them pause charmingly and confusedly for a minute or two as they tried to recall other songs of theirs they knew. But Dasher’s music knocked me in the head; here, it was only a handful of clumsy, half-hearted crowdsurfers, supported by too few apathetic arms, bumbling their way through us, flopping like dead fish into the arms of grasping security guards.
For more on Japandroids and their tour click here.