Saturday, Aug. 7

On Saturday evening, college-age men donned their American Eagle plaids and ironic Urban Outfitters tees and flocked to Plush for the treat of Tokyo Police Club's first Tucson appearance, for which the boys in the band showed appreciation. "We were in Vegas last night," singer/bassist Dave Monks told us archly. "A cool Tucson morning is a nice way to start the day."

The band managed to draw a massive crowd, filling Plush's club and patio space with bodies. Critics have often derided indie rock as a genre that affects smug disaffection over dynamism and showmanship, but Tokyo Police Club are, if nothing else, earnest in their desire to entertain and connect with their audience.

They also know their crowd: The dance-pep from their albums was often retooled with fight-song bravado, and peppered with lots of hand-clapping and "oi"-style war-whooping. Boys holding too many drinks pushed roughly through the crowd in order to flock together and slap each other on the back with congratulatory good cheer.

TPC covered Weezer's "My Name Is Jonas" for their encore as repayment for the audience's enthusiasm, leading to sporadic bursts of halfhearted crowd surfing.

Tokyo Police Club were good (but not yet great) performers. There were sound issues: The vocals were cranked up too high, and the synth lines were buried mostly under monolithic blare, though that problem seemed resolved temporarily for "Bambi." Monks' raspy vocal delivery, cleaned up on albums, sounded much more untrained live. His voice flattened out on longer notes, and songs that were adrenalized for the college-boy set sounded like note-for-note, but eerily hollow, retreads of the album versions.

If one sides with the populist, the evening was an unambiguous success. The audience loved the band, howling along with pop ballads and clapping excitedly when asked to participate. Then why did the night seem so flat and shallow to me?

Tokyo Police Club gave it their all on the stage, and everybody meant well—but it suddenly seemed certain that the band on the stage would be forgotten soon, and everyone would, years later, skip over that night in the recollections of their youth.


More by Sean Bottai


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