Photos by Jon Ching
After spending forty-five minutes looking for parking around Divisadero Street (paying for a lot would be too easy, after all) and finally settling for a questionable spot about a mile away, a distance that would soon lead me to struggling up an obnoxious San Francisco hill, I found myself muttering, “These guys better be fucking amazing tonight.” Don’t they know how out of shape I am? As an aspiring musician/music journalist, my diet is a pretty typical one for the breed, consisting mainly of fast food, cigarettes and cheap booze. Any hike that lasts longer than five minutes is just cruel and unusual punishment probably paying off bad karma accumulated in the past. I must’ve been a real jerk in a former life…
A few drinks later under the warm, cozy lighting of the Independent found me in a much better state of mind. It certainly helped that opening band Said The Whale happened to be thoroughly entertaining. Varying between exuberant power pop, subdued, almost menacing folk and simmering electro-rockers, the band kept you on your toes, each song break a guessing game as to what direction the next tune would take. The five-piece was talented all around, each member essential both musically and vocally to every song in their nearly fifty minute set, and their harmonies and unique melodic structures made them sound incredibly professional for such a young band. I always admire groups with standout drummers and here was one to mention as well. Tasty chops, excellent sense of rhythm and a solo vocal spotlight? Right on dude.
So what about the headliners? Were they, in fact, amazing enough to justify a trek through the hills of San Francisco? Well, amazing is a strong word and a very high standard I wouldn’t set anyone to, except maybe Prince co-headlining a bill with Jimi Hendrix’s ghost. Or a Smiths reunion. Whichever of the two scenarios is more likely (probably the ghost one).
Tokyo Police Club played a good, solid show for this sold-out crowd. The music was tight and the tracks they featured off new album Forcefield were especially sharp, particularly opener “Argentina.” From there on out, the band got the crowd dancing and singing along to their brand of guitar-driven, indie-rock goodness. Keyboardist Graham Wright added texture and sonic layers to the already melodious arrangements, drummer Greg Alsop never seemed to skip a beat, guitarist Josh Hook was able to show off a ferocious right hand on a few songs, and bassist/lead vocalist David Monks exuded geeky charm. “We all have one thing in common tonight,” he claimed during a song break, “We all love the Tokyo Police Club.” Laughter, applause, drunken cheers. “Except for the guys dragged along by their girlfriends,” he self-deprecatingly added with a sly smile. Then they kicked off another rocker. Nah David, they all love the Tokyo Police Club.