On The List :: Tokyo Police Club @ Mercury Lounge [9.7.08]

Tokyo Police Club took the stage last night at the Mercury Lounge and it was anything but a secret. The show, billed as Mark Knight's Tropic Zone, was Bowery Presents' foray into the world of unannounced, big name gigs. Unfortunately, it was such a secret in the weeks leading up to the show, speculation got out of control. TV On The Radio? Nope. Wolf Parade? All your secrets were drowned. No other bands, just Tokyo Police Club back at the Mercury Lounge for the first time in 18 months.

And everybody did their job. TPC owed Bowery Presents a show, accounting for a Webster Hall gig they backed out of a few months ago. You traded me for the lump sum. Bowery Presents slung together the secret gig, and TPC agreed. Everyone was fairly polite - it was more business deal than desire to connect with people. It was more of a transaction than a secret.

The band took the stage just before 11:15pm and the room was just a little under full. Tokyo Police Club always come out a little flat. The word on the street is you got a weakness. It seems like they're surprised to be there or a little too grateful - they just never come out and kill it. By now they have a catalogue deep enough to come out a little weak and rely on their bigger songs to close the set. This is not a total disaster.

Despite some equipment malfunctions, this is a radically different band than you might remember. After fiddling with their bass amp, the lead-singer jokes, "We're professionals." You've got nerve but we've got tact. It's not a joke. They've got a fancy guitar effect on all the songs from Elephant Shell and the guitarist has to look over at the guitar tech to make sure everything is opperating. It makes the new material sound, bluntly, huge. They've managed to embrace all the stage flourish of a big touring band. Their light-tech is working hard and the stage lights suddenly go out after almost every song. This band might work best in a small room but they aren't a small band anymore. Not even a little.

The show ends up being unexpectedly intimate. They play a down-tempo version of "Juno," seemingly inspired by the Ra Ra Riot remix of the song that dropped last week. There's a positively anthemic version of the slower-ride, "Listen To The Math." There are technical problems to the point where the keyboardist does about 60 seconds of filler about the first time they played the Mercury Lounge. It almost feels like you're seeing one of the biggest rock bands of the year play in someones basement. You're my cave and I've been hiding out. It's disjunctive but it works. They're not really trying to blow anyone away (and they don't) but they're trying to show up and put on a good show (and they do).

For a show that got scheduled because of a contract dispute, it ended up being more agreeable than not. We all signed on the bottom of the waiver and came out on a Sunday night. It was late and they band played nearly their entire catalogue. It was an invisible hand shake. We didn't need an opener. It's good enough that you're here. And it's better that you've come alone.

Listen :: Tokyo Police Club - Juno (Ra Ra Riot/Andrew Maury Remix)
Listen :: Tokyo Police Club - In A Cave
Listen :: Tokyo Police Club - Tessellate (Tom Campesino's Remix)
Listen :: Tokyo Police Club - Juno
(photo courtesy of sethhunters iphone)<


deadbands said...

Wow, dude. I must say I'm impressed by the strategically placed lyrics. Also, I just noticed they blew up their own spot on their website on Friday.

32feet said...

i was waiting to use "the divide is clear/in the coming year/the rich will take the poor" but it just didn't present itself. thanks for the dap, deadbands.


Ben said...

that review is RIGHT on the nose. kind of felt like a business transaction: we wanted them to play songs, they did, end of story. but it was still a good time. I could go on but I'm running out of space, So let me sum this up for you: good show, really good band, great review.