Coming of Age/Tokyo Police Club
As I walked up Brookline Ave across the David Ortiz Bridge overlooking the Mass Pike, the sun pierced through the chain-linked fences as it cascaded over my face. Reality was hitting me once again. "This can be your life", I thought to myself. Typically speaking, I don't typically go to shows alone but given this is what I want for myself, it's something I'd have to get used to. It felt freeing to be out on a shoot on a beautiful day, about to see/meet a group of musicians who have made music that's been a part of over a third of my life. Even just at the beginning of 2017, I'm not sure I could have imagined this for myself, to be out chasing/working with my greatest passions.
Tokyo Police Club have been a long-term fixture in my life over the course of the last 11+ years. I first heard them as a 19 year old college sophomore in 2006. They have since been a staple of my listening habits and have helped shape my musical interests as a young adult. I've done a lot of growing up while listening to their songs about wasted youth and transition into adulthood. The lyricism combined with the generally positive, energetic pace of the music was always a draw to me and I found something to connect to in their music. I've always felt a unique connection to their music, especially as someone who looks back on his youth with a degree of wondering what could have been if things were just a little different. Funny enough, I'm the same age as the majority of members in the band, too - so there's also a generational connection. Something about their songs have always identified clearly with me, the way that youth is reflected upon and seen as a growing adult in their twenties - a certain coming of age that I still feel I'm going through, even now as a 30 year old.
Upon taking the stage for a shortened set (The band was on tour on support as an opener for New York duo Matt and Kim), they started things off with the first single off their forthcoming album, "New Blues", a track focused on fighting depression, according to band member Graham Wright. It felt special to hear the new song in a live setting, still so fresh off of it's debut just a couple weeks prior.
The night featured a clean split of new material and old favorites, and somewhat surprisingly to me, it was the new material that stood out. The band moved about the stage in their usual fervor to match the fun energy of their instrumentals. Frontman David Monks regularly checked in with the larger-than-usual crowd, as he typically does during performances. I suspect that some folks there that night left with a new-found appreciation for the boys of Tokyo Police Club and their accessibility as a band/people. Folks were happily clapping along and bopping around to old favorites like Breakneck Speed, Argentina (l) and Wait Up (Boots of Danger) while absorbing the new material that was mixed in. Overall it was a great response from the sizable crowd in attendance.
After wrapping up the 10 song set with the always-reliable "Your English is Good" off of their 2007 debut LP, the band returned to the merch table to sell their music and talk to fans. Since I was prohibited from photographing Matt and Kim, I made my way over as well.
I had introduced myself beforehand and they were kind enough to let me hang around with them during Matt and Kim's headliner set. In that time, I collected a couple of vinyls for myself and was fortunate enough to have the entire band sign both. We mused about hockey (The Bruins and Maple Leafs just wrapped up their series the night before), their experiences with life on tour and some other random inquiries I may have had.
Eventually, it was just guitarist Josh Hook and I left at the table, and I can't commend/thank him enough for being so down to Earth as a person. He (along with Graham Wright) was the main facilitator of getting me to the show that night, and to have that kind of gesture be made from someone who has inspired you for so long is just one of the most awesome things I've had happen to me. As my barrage of questions slowed down, he didn't mind me hanging around to just enjoy a beer together and watch some hockey on his laptop. On a night where I came alone for the first time, it was great to still feel like I was there in the company of friends, even if we were just professional acquaintances.
The band plans on releasing their new album later this year. If you haven't taken the time to listen to their work before, then you have the summer to get caught up before they head out on their own headlining tour. These are musicians/people that truly deserve the support and praise that is directed toward them. As I continue about trying to carve out a career for myself, I've seen that there are good days and not-so-great days. As down-to-earth and relatable guys, it's a great inspriration to see other people like that succeeding in their own quests. Many thanks to the boys of TPC for making such a memorable night for me and inspiring me to keep powering ahead and putting myself out there - I'll be doing it with them in mind.