Japandroids, L.A. Witch contrast in awesome Masonic Lodge gig

Japandroids Masonic Lodge 2018 mainbar

Canadian rock duo Japandroids and local psych rock favorites L.A. Witch exist on different ends of the rock spectrum — but they sure contrast nicely. The two bands teamed up Wednesday for the second of two nights at the Masonic Lodge at Hollywood Forever.

The local three-piece L.A. Witch kicked things off with a mellow but groovy set as they continue to support last year’s excellent self-titled debut full-length album. When I saw them at the Teragram Ballroom earlier this year, a group of teenagers were completely entranced by their set (and the mushrooms they had taken).

The group had a similarly hypnotic effect on the Hollywood crowd Wednesday. Singer and guitarist Sade Sanchez’s brings a desert-tinge to their sound with her vocal style, particularly on standout track “Kill My Baby Tonight”. Throw that jam on your next playlist you plan on playing out at Joshua Tree.

Japandroids brought a different kind of energy. Vocalist and guitarist Brian King is a madman, darting all over the stage and drenching himself (and probably much of the first row) in sweat. David Prowse kept pace with King as he smashed his drum kit.

They put out a great record last year with Near to the Wild Heart of Life. I was pretty late on this bandwagon, not really connecting until I saw them last year at Cal Jam 17 in San Bernardino. This is one of those quintessential bands you tell your friends they “have to see live” — although the production of their records stands on its own.

The album-opening title track opened the set. It has a chorus that hits you right in the chest — punctuated by King shouting “So I left my home / And all I had / I used to be good but now I’m bad.” It’s a song that sounds like the best parts of post-grunge ’90s rock.

There wasn’t a lull as they powered through a 16-song set, playing about the same amount from their latest record and their most critically-acclaimed, 2012’s Celebration Rock. It was the Vancouver band’s breakout moment, as the band fused together influences like Tom Petty and Bruce Springsteen with the post-grunge ’90s sound. It adds up why Foo Fighters frontman Dave Grohl chose them for his curated Cal Jam fest last year.

They’re at Governors Ball this weekend, and are also at Pitchfork Festival in July.

Photos by Tim Aarons