Smile Politely

Tokyo Police Club deliver infinite radness at The Accord

As a part of the Pygmalion Festival Show Series, the Scottish band We Were Promised Jetpacks and the Canadian indie rock band Tokyo Police Club performed in Champaign for the first time. The crowd at the Accord gave both bands a warm welcome, singing along to every song as if they had been here many nights before.

We Were Promised Jetpacks went on first, pushing and pulling emotion and reaching every corner with their ethereal sounds. The four piece band – native to Edinburgh, Scotland – is made up of Adam Thompson (Vocals/Guitar), Darren Lackie (Drums), Sean Smith (Bass) and Michael Palmer (Guitar). Setting the mood, they began with nothing but a dark stage and the ominous sound of a space station’s launch countdown.

Slow, rolling chords were followed by a thunderous breakdown under Thompson’s carefully placed, yet intensely delivered words. The room lit up with excitement upon recognition of the opening guitar riff to “Quiet Little Voices” which kept the audience singing along to every chorus. Peaks of volume prompted casual head banging and ground-stomping and contrasted with delicate moments when Thompson abandoned the microphone and allowed his voice and guitar to croon across the stillness.

Tokyo Police Club energetically climbed on stage without a moment of hesitation. Dave Monks (Bass/Vocals), Graham Wright (Keyboard/Guitar), Josh Hook (Guitar), and Greg Alsop (Drums) delivered a terribly fun 15 song set. As can be expected, they played some songs from their most recent releases, Melon Collie and the Infinite Radness: Part One (2016) and Forcefield (2014), but the band performed a surprising amount of those nostalgia-riddled tunes from earlier works – Champ (2010), Elephant Shell (2008), and A Lesson in Crime (2006).

The opening song “Cheer it On” stood as a refreshing reminder of how catchy Tokyo Police Club’s choruses are while the whole room shouted “Tokyo Police Club”. With each song passing strikingly fast, the energy remained. Amazingly, the older songs felt just as freshly familiar as the new and fit in as if they had all been written together in the past year. Dave Monks strained his voice to sing with the hollering crowd and treated the audience like good friends, taking the time to crack a couple of jokes (cheesy jokes such as “are you ready to feel the Illi-noise” before Alsop counted off the party anthem “Hot Tonight”).

Most of the songs were played straight-ahead and with wonderful precision – just how they sound on the records – and when they did add something extra, it was perfect. There was a moment when the group incorporated a drawn-out ending that would break down to just the bass and a repeated thump of the drums and as it became calmer, the crowd ironically became more excited. Similarly, the opening to one of Champ’s hits was an unrecognizable, slow build-up into the satisfying sound of “Bambi”.

The last song of the set was Forcefield’s “Argentina (Parts I, II, III)” which was played with seamlessly beautiful transitions between each part. After the band walked off stage, leaving only the subtle hum of guitar feedback, an encore was unanimously encouraged. The encore took us back into 2008’s Elephant Shell with the upbeat, fast-paced performance of “Your English is Good”. 

Tokyo Police Club knows how to have a good time, and although this was We Were Promised Jetpacks’ last night touring with them, they made for an incredible show together. “It’s good to be back” – these reassuring words from the songs “Breakneck Speed” and “Frankenstein” – are still echoing about my mind and the Accord’s walls. If either of these bands do come back to Champaign, it sure will be good to have them.


All photography by Priten Vora.

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