Tokyo Police Club: A Lesson in Gig Selection

Back when I first heard about Canadian band Tokyo Police Club (probably well over a year ago now), I downloaded a few of the tracks off their EPs from music blogs, listened to them, was mildly interested and then left it at that. They were typical indie-pop with that bouncy backbeat and a bit of new wave cheek. Having listened to most of the songs off their Smith EP, I recall thinking the songs were rather short and similar. Then after listening to several songs off their A Lesson in Crime EP, I started confusing those tracks with the ones I heard earlier from the Smith EP. Besides the slower title track, I couldn’t distinguish between the two EPs. When I heard their debut album, Elephant Shell, I confused its tracks with the tunes from their EPs. Needless to say, I probably shouldn’t have gone to see them live. I don’t know what exactly I was thinking – as if seeing them live would help the fact their songs all sounded the same to me. Nonetheless, I decided I would give them a shot (and kill one more evening in my generally eventless life) and attend their gig at the Garrick Centre in Winnipeg last night. As part of the tour in honour of the sixteenth anniversary of Exclaim magazine, TPC are making their way across Canada with varying opening acts.
The second I got into the line for the show I found myself irritated and for completely unreasonable, curmudgeonly reasons. The massive amount of teenagers and people who were technically adults, but still much younger than me, were annoying me with their attempts at indie hipsterdom. These things shouldn’t anger me (these indie kids are at nearly every show I ever attend, whether in Winnipeg, Toronto or even Cardiff…they’re practically a global phenomenon – I bet there are penguins somewhere in the antarctic wearing Converse sneakers and footless tights, bobbing their heads to a bouncy backbeat). Perhaps what was really irking me the most about this crowd, aside from the t-shirts paired with dinner jackets and the bizarre return of plaid flannel shirts, was the fact that all these kids appeared to adore Tokyo Police Club. Again, this should have been expected, concerts tend to be attended by fans of the band playing them. But somehow the fact this many young people turned out to see this particular band, which in my eyes was completely average, vexed me. It started to make me wonder whether the kids were there because they truly loved the band and found their music to be life-changing and original, or whether they wanted to believe that this band was truly unique because all the other cool kids thought so, too. And if it really was the former reason, there was no way I could ever understand these people. At any rate, I started feeling rather surly and self-righteous and turned up songs by The Sound on my iPod to block out the rumbling of excited chatter around me. I became an ancient 25-year-old.

Frankly, it’s already a bad sign if I’m not compelled to take up my usual spot against the stage. Despite the unseemliness of being pressed against the stage at my age (though this problem will probably only get much, much worse as the years pass), I almost always plant myself firmly against the centre stage, arms resting on a monitor. I should also add that the fact I’m very short also contributes to this behaviour. This time I stood back a fair bit further than usual, well away from the pointy elbows of malnourished indie boys, though still close enough to have my hair ruffled by the bass vibrations emanating from the speaker stacks. As Tokyo Police Club took the stage, I hoped against hope that they would end up impressing me with their live presence.

They blazed through their set in less than an hour mostly because all their songs are about two minutes long – a feature I came to appreciate as I felt myself longing to leave the venue early. With a set that included In a Cave, Tessellate, The Baskervilles, Your English is Good, Listen to the Math, Nursery, Academy, Nature of the Experiment, Box, Citizens of Tomorrow, and Be Good, TPC failed to engage me – to be honest, every time they played a new song, I could swear they had already played it earlier, and that I was in some horrendous indie groundhog day. In their live context, the sameyness of their songs only became more prominent to me (the only reason I can recount the songs I do is because I mentally took note of a few lyrics off each song to compare with the actual tracks later and work out like a puzzle – a fantastic mental exercise, but not a good sign for their music). Singer/bassist, David Monks, whose voice reminds me a bit of Peter Perrett of The Only Ones, was animated, but uninteresting as a similar drumbeat intro started each song off. Graham Wright, the keyboardist, who provided the odd unhinged shouting chant, bent so low over his keyboard that I feared he would trap his nose between the keys until he snapped his head as far back as humanly possible with Snoopy-like tosses. But even that action became cliched for me – it felt like I had seen that before from countless unmemorable opening acts. The show became reminiscent (right down to the seizure-inducing strobe lights) of when I went to see another indie Canadian band, Hot Hot Heat, play a gig about three years ago. That time, too, I shouldn’t have expected much, considering I was really only there to see The Futureheads in the support slot, but the complete disengagement I felt at that gig also came as a sad surprise. Their fans also went beserk for songs that had no effect on me whatsoever.

I can’t bring myself to hate TPC because they are so genuine and grateful, bless, thanking the crowd at every moment and making the effort to keep mentioning their earlier Winnipeg gig at The Pyramid. The set was also punctuated by a dedication to someone named Jill just before Your English is Good (am I so crotchety that I even find this ungrammatical phrase annoying?) and the encouraged participation in the form of handclapping for Citizens of Tomorrow. So, TPC do get an A for their attempt to interact with the crowd. Their encore was appropriate in that it was short just like their set was – it consisted merely of Cheer It On, which I only really remember because they keep shouting their band name in it (not something I’m particularly fond of, but which is extremely helpful when you’re like me and apparently need to utilize mnemonic devices where this band’s songs are concerned). For most of the show, I found my eyes straying to the audience, including a boy with the exact same haircut as Monks, flailing like he had a particularly bad case of head lice, and a couple of indie hipster girls dancing by themselves, one of whom looked like she had walked straight out of a 1980’s high school yearbook photo, oversized glasses, unfortunate haircut and all. Kudos to them for being so confident with themselves and for actually having sense enough to attend a concert they would actually like.

I had also hoped that the opening acts might make my attendance worthwhile, but to no avail. The two opening acts were Smoosh, a teen-sister duo from Seattle, and Attack in Black, a plaid-shirt-wearing four-piece from Ontario – I’ve largely forgotten both of them. I will give kudos to Smoosh in that they’re doing something fairly ambitious for their age (and heaven knows I can’t play keyboard and sing at the same time, nor can I write my own music, and I really had nothing going for me as a teenager…so, I really don’t have much of right to be harsh), and in time, they’ll probably fit quite nicely into the indie scene. At the very least, they played a cover of Bloc Party’s This Modern Love, which was admirable. Attack in Black sounded like a blend of country-rock and emo, a mixture I never really want to come across again.

All in all, the night was forgettable. Although, I’ll probably remember just how forgettable it was if TPC tours this way again.

**NOTE** I’m not even joking when I say I initially forgot to include tracks to download for this post. Bloody hell.

Tessellate – Tokyo Police Club

Cheer It On – Tokyo Police Club


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Gigs Attended

Arcade Fire w/ Bell Orchestre + Wolf Parade (2005)

Arctic Monkeys w/ Reverend and the Makers (2007)

Austra w/ Young Galaxy + Tasseomancy (2011)

Big Audio Dynamite (2011)

Billy Bragg w/ Ron Hawkins (2009)

Billy Idol w/ Bif Naked (2005)

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Good Shoes w/ The Moths + The Envelopes (2007)

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Mother Mother w/ Whale Tooth (2011)

Mother Mother w/ Hannah Georgas (2012)

MSTRKRFT w/ Felix Cartal (2008)

Muse (2004)

Nine Inch Nails w/ Death From Above 1979 + Queens of the Stone Age (2005)

of Montreal w/ Janelle Monae (2010)

Owen Pallett w/ Little Scream (2010)

Patrick Wolf w/ Bishi (2007)

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Pulp w/ Grace Jones, TV on the Radio, The Hives, The Horrors, Metronomy, Devotcka, Vintage Trouble (2011)

Rufus Wainwright w/ Teddy Thompson (2010)

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Snow Patrol w/ OK Go + Silversun Pickups (2007)

Sons and Daughters w/ Bodies of Water (2008)

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Stars w/ The Details (2008)

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The Killers w/ Ambulance Ltd (2004)

The New Pornographers w/ Novillero (2008)

The New Pornographers w/ The Mountain Goats (2010)

The Ordinary Boys w/ Young Soul Rebels (2006)

The Pains of Being Pure at Heart w/ Suun (2011)

The Rakes w/ The Young Knives (2006)

The Raveonettes w/ Black Acid (2008)

The Stills w/ Gentleman Reg (2009)

The Subways w/ The Mad Young Darlings (2006)

Tokyo Police Club w/ Smoosh + Attack in Black (2008)

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The only certain thing that is left about me

There is no part of my body that has not been used

Pity or pain, to show displeasure's shame

Everyone I've loved or hated always seems to leave


So I turned myself to face me

But I've never caught a glimpse

Of how the others must see the faker

I'm much too fast to take that test

The Smiths Queen is Dead

A dreaded sunny day

So let's go where we're happy

And I meet you at the cemetry gates

Oh, Keats and Yeats are on your side

A dreaded sunny day

So let's go where we're wanted

And I meet you at the cemetry gates

Keats and Yeats are on your side

But you lose 'cause weird lover Wilde is on mine

The Clash London Calling

When they kick at your front door

How you gonna come?

With your hands on your head

Or on the trigger of your gun


Charles Windsor, who's at the door

At such an hour, who's at the door

In the back of an old green Cortina

You're on your way to the guillotine

Here the rabble comes

The kind you hoped were dead

They've come to chop, to chop off your head


Then you came with your breezeblocks

Smashing up my face like a bus-stop

You think you're giving

But you're taking my life away


Won't someone give me more fun?

(and the skin flies all around us)

We kiss in his room to a popular tune

Oh, real drowners


Don't walk away

In silence

See the danger

Always danger

Endless talking

Life rebuilding

Don't walk away

Walk in silence

Don't turn away in silence

Your confusion

My illusion

Worn like a mask of self-hate

Confronts and then dies

Don't walk away


You don't want to hurt me

But see how deep the bullet lies

Unaware I'm tearing you asunder

Oh there is thunder in our hearts

Is there so much hate for the ones we love

Tell me we both matter don't we

The Associates Affectionate

I don't know whether

To over or under estimate you

Whether to over or under estimate you

For when I come over

You then put me under

Personal taste is a matter of gender


I wake at dusk to go alone without a light

To the unknown

I want this night inside of me

I want to feel

I want this speeding

I want that speeding


You'll never live like common people

You'll never do what common people do

You'll never fail like common people

You'll never watch your life slide out of view

And dance and drink and screw

Because there's nothing else to do

Vanilla Swingers

All I have is words, words that don't obtain

And I feel I'm a stain on your horizon

So I stay away - it's easier that way

And there won't be no-one I need to rely on

Is it him, is it me

Or is there something only I can see

How did I get here, why do we blow around like straw dogs on the breeze

I'm a special one, what they used to say

But I've to stay on, finish levels-A

You don't need exams when you've read John Gray

The Indelicates American Demo

And nobody ever comes alive

And the journalists clamour round glamour like flies

And boys who should know better grin and get high

With fat men who once met the MC5

And no one discusses what they don't understand

And no one does anything to harm the brand

And this gift is an illusion, this isn't hard

Absolutely anyone can play the fucking guitar

JAMC Darklands

And we tried so hard

And we looked so good

And we lived our lives in black


Plucked her eyebrows on the way

Shaved her leg and then he was a she

She says, hey babe,

Take a walk on the wild side

Said, hey honey, take a walk on the wild side


Hide on the promenade

Etch a postcard:

How I dearly wish I was not here

In the seaside town...that they forgot to bomb

Come, come, come - nuclear bomb


Back when we were kids

We would always know when to stop

And now all the good kids are messing up

Nobody has gained or accomplished anything

Wire Pink Flag

Prices have risen since the government fell

Casualties increase as the enemy shell

The climate's unhealthy, flies and rats thrive

And sooner or later the end will arrive

This is your correspondent, running out of tape

Gunfire's increasing, looting, burning, rape


Well, maybe there's a god above

But all I've ever learned from love

Was how to shoot somebody who outdrew you

It's not a cry that you hear at night

It's not somebody who's seen the light

It's a cold and it's a broken hallelujah


And what costume shall the poor girl wear

To all tomorrow's parties

For Thursday's child is Sunday's clown

For whom none will go mourning


My body is your body

I won't tell anybody

If you want to use my body

Go for it


Oh it's opening time

Down on Fascination Street

So let's cut the conversation

And get out for a bit

Because I feel it all fading and paling

And I'm begging

To drag you down with me

Mansun Six

And you see, I kind of shivered to conformity

Did you see the way I cowered to authority

You see, my life, it's a series of compromises anyway

It's a sham, and I'm conditioned to accept it all, you see

Japan Gentlemen

Take in the country air, you'll never win

Gentlemen take polaroids

They fall in love, they fall in love


We just want to emote til we're dead

I know we suffer for fashion

Or whatever

We don't want these days to ever end

We just want to emasculate them forever

Forever, forever

Pretty sirens don't go flat

It's not supposed to happen like that

Longpigs The Sun

There's no perfume I can buy

Make me smell like myself

So I put on perfume

To make me smell like someone else

In bed

Calvin Harris I Created Disco

I got love for you if you were born in the 80's, the 80's

I've got hugs for you if you were born in the 80's, the 80's


Does his makeup in his room

Douse himself with cheap perfume

Eyeholes in a paper bag

Greatest lay I ever had

Kind of guy who mates for life

Gotta help him find a wife

We're a couple, when our bodies double

Simple Minds Sons and Fascination

Summer rains are here

Savaged beauty life

Falling here from grace

Sister feeling call

Cruising land to land

No faith no creed no soul

Half a world away

Beauty sleeps in time

Sound and fury play

Bloc Party Silent Alarm

North to south


Running on


As if to say, as if to say

He doesn't like chocolate

He's born a liar, he'll die a liar

Some things will never be different


LCD Soundsystem

Well Daft Punk is playing at my house, my house

I've waited 7 years and 15 days

There's every kid for miles at my house, my house

And the neighbors can't...call the police

There's a fist fight brewin' at my house, my house

Because the jocks can't...get in the door

Johnny Boy

I just can't help believing

Though believing sees me cursed

Stars Set Yourself

I am trying to say

What I want to say

Without having to say "I love you"

Josef K Entomology

It took 10 years to realise why the angels start to cry

When you go home down the main

Your happy smile

Your funny name

Cocteau Twins Bluebell


Doesn't she look a million with her hairagami set

Hair kisses 'n' hair architecture

Yes, she's a beautiful brunette angel from heaven with her hairagami set

Hair kisses 'n' hair architecture

Augment a beautiful brunette

New Order Power Corruption

How does it feel

To treat me like you do

When you've laid your hands upon me

And told me who you are


You must let her go

She's not crying



Feeling like I'm waiting

Modern times



Hating to distraction

Just leave them alone


Girls in the back

Girls in the back

Puressence Don't Forget

They say come back to earth and start getting real, yeah

I say come back to earth and start getting real

I know I can't


So I walk right up to you

And you walk all over me

And I ask you what you want

And you tell me what you need


The problem of leisure

What to do for pleasure

Ideal love a new purchase

A market of the senses

Dream of the perfect life

Economic circumstances

The body is good business

Sell out, maintain the interest


Sitting in my armchair thinking again and again and again

Going round in a circle I can't get out

Then I look around thinking day and night and day

Then you look around - there must be some explanation

And the tension builds

Psychdedelic Furs

India, India

You're my love song

India, you're my love song

In the flowers

You can have me in the flowers

We will dance alone

And live our useless lives

Ladytron Light Magic

They only want you when you're seventeen

When you're twenty-one

You're no fun

They take a polaroid and let you go

Say they'll let you know


No consolation prizes

Spit out your lies and chewing gum

Cut off your hair yeah that's it!

If you look like that I swear I'm gonna love you more


All the neighbors are startin' up a fire

Burning all the old folks, the witches and the liars.

My eyes are covered by the hands of my unborn kids

But my heart keeps watchin' through the skin of my eyelids


Prince charming

Prince charming

Ridicule is nothing to be scared of

Don't you ever, don't you ever

Stop being dandy, showing me you're handsome


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