Summer is synonymous with easy nights, large groups of teenagers and the pulse of live music. Here at The Gavel, we’ve decided to spread this simple joy by sharing concert reports from all around the country so that you never really miss out on what summer 2014 has to offer—no matter where you are. We begin in the great sister city to our Boston: New York, where indie-pop group, Tokyo Police Club found their way to Webster Hall on their summer tour.
If the name doesn’t ring a bell, prepare your eardrums for a greater sensation than the chimes of familiarity. Tokyo Police Club (TPC) is a relatively new act. The Canadians formed in 2005 and began performing live that summer before getting a boost in recognition at the Montreal Pop Festival that fall, where the response of the audience encouraged the young TPC to quit school and start livin’. Since then, the band has traveled and performed internationally, holding four original records and one cover album under their belt.
Their fourth album, Forcefield, is what brought the guys to New York City this May. Released this past March, Forcefield is TPC on steroids. The usual chill indie vibes and playful vocals of feature vocalist/bassist, Dave Monks, sound as though Monks downed a red bull and then went to a bonfire; he transitioned between singing in the usual soothing fashion and a new, energetic way. The feeling is one of summer personified, and the album gives the listener that urge to roll down their windows and drive through the nighttime summer air by keeping the rest of the instrumentals upbeat and pop-y. Drummer/percussionist, Greg Alsop, pumps life into the beats while maintaining the feel good/not trying too hard sound that old TPC fans are happy to welcome back.
Fans are also happy that the lyrical integrity of the band is still perfect—laced with dreaminess and reality. Despite the noticeably more pop-feel, the lyrics and choruses in each song deliver. Perhaps the biggest change in the TPC sound is found in the popular track, “Hot Tonight.” The loud, catchy verses pack a punch of sound and float up leaving listeners feeling carefree and light. In typical TPC style, the song avoids being empty with standout lyrics like, “Standing in a world with a streetlight sun/ I don’t keep my sneakers white/ all I really got is a name and a buck/ to get me to another life/ and I wonder what you’re doing tonight.” The realistic themes of suburban unrequited love kept the crowd belting along when they performed it live. Despite the newness of Forcefield, it seemed like every person in the packed room of Webster Hall knew each word, and felt them all.
On the other extreme of “Hot Tonight,” is Forcefield’s tour de force, “Argentina (Pts. I, II, III)”, an epic, nearly nine-minute adventure that takes up almost a third of the album’s total runtime. The track is the furthest from pop on the record, and original fans will likely keep it in their favorites bin. “Argentina” sounds like what the last night of summer feels like: bursts of life, tinted with sadness, and the urge for it to go on forever. Instrumentals, vocals, diversity and lyrics all shine. Personally, I think Tokyo Police Club’s realistic charm and ability to relate to the crowd shines most on the borderline whimsical lyrics: “If I was a lighthouse/ I would look all over the place/ If I was an asshole/ Thank you for keeping a smile on your face”.
Tokyo Police Club left me smiling, especially after their opening band, new kids on the scene, Said the Whale, left me vibing and moving with the sweet, dreamy, and quirky sounds of their new album, Hawaiii. A new listener to the four studly hipsters and their beautiful keyboardist, I definitely developed a crush for their sound. The best way to describe the group would probably fall along the lines of indie/surf-pop. Their lyrics were catchy and standout tracks, “I Love You” and “Camilo” stuck in my head days after the show. Check them out if you’re a fan of Best Coast, Wavves, the Beach Boys, The Strokes, and basically every other band you lean towards to as soon as the weather heats up.
The other opening band, Geographer, is unique in two ways. Geographer has more of a sampling style; the duo brings to the stage a million instruments through electronic magic (i.e. sampling pads and keyboards) and revved up, hypnotic lyrics. Somehow they achieve a perfect mix of mellow vibes while keeping the room feeling like an electronic party that makes you want to dance—no matter what dancing is in your book. They’re unique because on top of the technology used, there is also a cello and smooth, provocative vocals that create a blend unlike any other I’ve heard.
All in all, it was a great concert thanks to the killer combination of an old favorite and two new discoveries. Check them out, and happy (musical) summer!