The Showbox Story told through Japandroids

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A few weekends ago Matias and I traveled to Toronto to see Japandroids play two nights at The Danforth Music Hall.

The minute these tickets went on sale we snatched up a pair online and got really excited. You see, Japandroids hold a very special place in the Ottawa Showbox story. Four years ago around this time, I met Matias and a few months later we bonded over the track “Younger Us” while at one of my lowest points, having recently come out of a long term relationship.

It was something special to see the band live with my good buddy and hear them play the song that truly connected us and changed my commitment to the city of Ottawa from football coach to music journalist. It was a very powerful moment.

Japandroids brought the best out of the crowd at Toronto’s Danforth Music Hall. Photo: Matias Munoz/Ottawa Showbox

After talking to someone at a party, I sent Matias my resume to work for Ottawa Showbox. I included clippings and a cover letter as if it was this big time production. Matias probably read it in his boxers sitting on the couch eating cereal. One of those clippings was of a Flatliners’ show I covered, which struck a chord with Matias and he knew we had to meet. Not long after I sent my application, we met up and chatted about shows, music, and the Ottawa scene.

It was kind of funny teaming up with a guy pretty new to Ottawa to cover a music scene I grew up in. The only thing was, I had been very disconnected from the “scene” and the wonderful people in it for almost 5 years. I wrote my first piece for Showbox in February 2013, and in March of that year my girlfriend of nearly 6 years and I broke up. We all know how love scars your heart, just listen to Japandroids. I quickly shifted all my attention to going to shows and writing. To be clear, my ex-girlfriend didn’t keep me from it, but this new found time and emptiness was filled with the passion of using my journalism degree and the love for my city and its music burst from the seams all of a sudden.

I went from not knowing the guy to hanging out with him 2, 3, even 4 times a week. We quickly became best friends. A few months after we started hanging out, Matias’ long term relationship also came to an end. I will never forget the night of just hanging out the two us talking about what was next for us and the site. Matias put on Japandroids, a band I knew but hadn’t followed closely for a while. When “Younger Us” came on something just took us over. This is what we wanted. We wanted to party, hang out, go to shows and have people in our lives we could call up who were already in bed and would say “fuck it” and get up to go out instead. I listened to the song non-stop. On my way to work, at work, at the gym, on my way home… it became all- encompassing, it was the theme song to our friendship. It was very rare to not play the song at least once when we hung out together at one of our places.

“Give me younger us!” we, Matias, Tony and myself, sang at the top of our lungs. Photo by Devon Salmon

This made the shows in Toronto extra special. Yes, the new album is absolutely phenomenal and from the starting distortion and very first drum beat of the opening song “Near to the Wild Heart of Life” we were amped and singing along. The set was wonderful and had a little bit of everything covering the band’s discography. To top it all off, it was held in the absolutely beautiful Danforth Music Hall. It took 13 songs, but it was finally time for “Younger Us.” As soon as we heard the very first strum of the guitar we both jumped in glee and threw an arm over each others’ shoulder and sang so loud we probably drowned out the band for nearby fans (sorry about that). A magical moment in my life and our friendship. It was as special the second night when we could share the moment with some more Ottawa pals who came down for the show.

After 4 years and probably close to 500 posts, it took a band from BC playing in Toronto to remind me and reignite my love and commitment to Ottawa and its beautiful music scene. Here is to many more nights, many more shows, and to forever being younger us.

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