I'll let you in on some simple truths: Spilled drinks are most often wet, especially when spilled on my new shoes. Cowboy hats, when worn by people almost certainly birthed by a taffy puller, tend to suck even more. Sweat is usually really gross, especially of the ass variety and when you can feel it dripping down your thighs. And Tokyo Police Club... well, they rock. On Thursday night, amid the cries of so many teenyboppers and the glowing lights of a bar television broadcasting the Braves-Astros game that was never once silenced, the Atlanta venue Vinyl was reunited for the third time with TPC.
Atlanta locals The Futurists were up first, their army of fans swarming the stage like promiscuously clad, underage honeybees. While I wasn’t expecting much from the band -- they could have passed for freshmen in high school -- their performance was just as impressive as their lead singer was nervous (that is, very). The tiresome ascending/descending vocal howling, the cement in the bassist’s shoes, and the giggling lead singer in the most somber of moments would have made the set a mediocre one, had it not been for the ardent enthusiasm with which the band played. Their energy set the room ablaze and may have even turned a head or two at the bar, effectively setting the mood for the remainder of the evening.
The second band up, New York’s Ra Ra Riot, started with a train wreck that wasn’t satisfied with the mechanical destruction, so it gassed the passengers aboard. Whether it was the sound panel in the back, the monitors up front, or the musicians on stage, it wasn’t until four or five songs had passed until they really got it together, pulling everything together at once: sound, movement, and balance made uniform with a 6/8 waltz. Fortunately, once they found it, they found it hard, utilizing the multitude of instruments they had at their disposal on stage, reminding the audience that they were indeed there for a reason.
And then, finally, there was Tokyo Police Club. Opening with a potent rendition of “Cheer It On” to the screams of the audience whose ears were quick to recognize the unmistakable drum set intro and raw braying of “Operator!” they set to work without hesitation. Although up until this point the various hipsters, drunks, and underage teens were busy spilling drinks on my shoes, they were now fully engaged and "playing their parts" all the more furiously.
Surprisingly, Dave Monks (vocals, bass) and John Hook (guitar) didnt' have the energy on stage you might expect from their vivacious sounds, but Graham Wright on keys made up for any slack that they might have left behind (or perhaps it was simply by comparison that they seemed lethargic). Throughout the show, Wright was immersed in a different world, vertebrae curling with a drooping head, his nose inches from the keys. His driving shouts during “Cut Cut Paste” were like an incitement of a frenzy; the previous dull roars subdued, rattled over the instrumental lines as he shouted through his raised hands forming a megaphone.
Things only improved as the show progressed, and while Wright continued in his performative madness, the rest of the band took cues, becoming enveloped in the emotional current (to some extent) that their music was assuming. At the end of the show, following “Be Good” -- a song made all the more entertaining as someone immediately behind me was clanking the beat with two empty beer bottles -- the audience was swept up in the moment, faces gleaming, feet lifting off the floor in ecstasy, roaring after that final song because they knew it wasn’t quite over; they’ve still got an encore waiting for them.
And then there was nothing. The band took it a step further and didn’t even issue a farewell before leaving the stage to sell their merch. Now, don’t get me wrong; it was a brilliant show -- all the right songs and amount of energy were there, but the fact that I was listening to a drunk guy on the train ask me about hernias at a time when I should have been hearing just a little more TPC is simply not right.