Several months ago, I decided, along with my girlfriend and a close friend, that spending Thanksgiving in Mexico City would be more fun than staying in the U.S. this year. We booked our flights, and made several fun plans, including a trip to see Lucha Libre on Friday, November 25th. We made these plans shortly before Japandroids announced their “comeback” tour of just a small number of cities worldwide, sadly skipping the Bay Area, but hitting Mexico City on Friday, November 25th. This, of course, meant it was time for me to accomplish the greatest show challenge of my life: a double-header in a foreign country, where I don’t know the layout, and I don’t speak the language. I had spent the past 37 years preparing for this moment.
After a handful of successful rounds of wrestling, I was ready for some rock ‘n roll. Sadly, my trip partners wanted to stay to finish out the match. So, I set off on my journey — alone, but with an extra ticket, which meant another opportunity for greatness: “Miracle Ticket International.”
After a slightly confusing cab trip, I was dropped off at a large building, roughly the size of an entire city block. Outside were dozens of people dressed up for a night of clubbing. I double-checked the address: Nuevo Leon 73. However, it seemed that nothing was marked- no street numbers, no street names. I used the (very little) bit of Spanish I know to ask a kind valet the location of Bar Caradura. Happily, he decided to walk me directly to the venue, where roughly thirty people were standing outside. There was a tiny sign above the equally tiny door announcing the name of the venue. I had arrived.
I got to the entrance, and realized that it looked like the show was sold out. The 30 people outside were waiting for them to open up tickets. So I let the person in the front, a man that drove 16 hours from the city of Chihuahua for the show, take my spare. Within minutes, I had a delicious beer in hand as a gift from this man, and was ready for the show.
The room was tiny. It felt like the cap was maybe 100 people, and the room was packed. I found a spot towards the back, and settled in for the night.
There was no opener. A bright red curtain came down, and lead singer Brian King casually said into the mic, “Me llamo Brian. Te llama David. We are going to play a bunch of new songs, but here’s an older one.” Then the duo went straight into an aggressive reading of “Adrenaline Nightshift.” Within moments, my feet were no longer supporting my weight, as the entire room erupted into one massive mosh. By the end of the song, I had been pushed all the way to the very front. No barrier, just pressed against the stage.
To be honest, most of the set was one giant, sweaty blur. The crowd moved as one for the entire 90-minute set. Much of the new material was in the vein of Celebration Rock: hooky, optimistic anthems ready for singing along in the pit. In fact, many in the crowd were singing along with the new single, “Near To The Wild Heart Of Life.”
There was one new song that stood out from the rest. It was introduced as, “a weird song written a year and a half ago, just a few blocks away.” Drummer David Prowse started fiddling with a drum machine, queued up a surprising electronic beat, and took over the mic. It transitioned into a steady, groovy, seven-minute epic, with the guitar sounding like an organ at times. It was a whole new direction, but it sounded great. The song is called “Arc of Bar,” and is likely to be a stand-out cut when Near To The Wild Heart Of Life comes out next year.
The set closed with the vicious two-fer of “The House That Heaven Built” and “For The Love Of Ivy.” During the last cut, Brian, whom it should be noted is a very tall man, jumped into the crowd, and played while on top of the audience. The ceiling was so low that he was literally resting his foot on it for support. It was a delirious and sweaty end to a delirious and sweaty show.
My assessment? Mexico City audiences are amazing. Japandroids aren’t too bad, either.