‘A Brooklyn-based art project/punk band’ is a description bordering on the kind of fodder that lives in the world of Portlandia – on first glance. Japanther, the longtime DIY-oriented duo of Matt Reilly and Ian Vanek, do often play their accessible punk rock in unique situations: an 84-hour performance art piece and giant dinosaurs appearing alongside them at shows are just two of many situations that the veteran act can claim to fame.
Behind the theatrics, which ‘keep them interested’ according to Vanek, is a down-to-earth noise rock band happily existing within the confines of Brooklyn’s DIY scene twelve years since they began.
“You’re so vicious Death By Audio, I love it here,” says lead singer Reilly before jumping into another song at the start of their high-powered set Sunday night at the grungy, art-filled Williamsburg warehouse space. The packed crowd – the majority of whom arrived early for the Olympia, WA-based noisy shoegaze act Broken Water (who just released an album on Japanther’s record label, Tapes Records) – consumed Japanther’s short but raw songs from the start.
Village Voice awarded them the ‘Best Live Entertainment’ award in 2011 and it’s not until you experience the excitement of Reilly belting out heartfelt lyrics over fuzzy garage pop licks live that you’ll truly understand. Interspersed within their hour-long set, Reilly and Vanek fulfilled their community duty of pumping up their fans to care for beaches rocked by Sandy last fall, start something new and just do-it-yourself. “You don’t need a million dollars to be a millionaire,” says Vanek to an attentive crowd.
That same crowd also cleared out the front half of the room with a rowdy session of moshing and crowd-surfing, but that’s just the nature of a Japanther show. The prolific duo released another LP, “Eat Like Lisa, Act Like Bart” yesterday and announced a summer tour. They play Brooklyn, NY next on July 11 at Rare Form and Cambridge, MA on July 14 at Cambridge Elks Lodge.