Japandroids/Craig Finn and the Uptown Controllers @ Union Transfer 2/24-25/17, Philadelphia, PA

When tour dates are announced and it's something I really, really want to go to, I generally check the schedule for multiple nights that are close together. Depending on the band, I will drive to other cities. Like, in spring of 2014, The Hold Steady did a run of 8 shows in small halls, and I went to four. Over the course of those 4 days, I drove almost 1400 miles--Akron to Louisville, KY. Then, back to Akron, and up to Cleveland. Back home to Akron, and then down to Columbus. Back to Akron, and then out to Pittsburgh. It sounds like a lot, but those shows were all a lot of fun.

I saw Japandroids the last time they played in Cleveland, which was back in 2012 on the Celebration Rock tour. The sound at the Grog Shop tends to always be bad, but with the wall of sound that Japandroids brings live, it was impossible to enjoy seeing them in such a small room. I'm a huge fan of their loud, anthemic sound, though. So when I found out that Craig was opening for them, I knew I had to go.

Japandroids' newest album, Near to the Wild Heart of Life, is a solid album, full of upbeat, singalong songs. So a tour with Craig Finn was a nice match.

Union Transfer is a really nice club, and the sound was really good both nights. We got to the venue about 10 minutes before doors, and were able to get right in and right up front (thanks also to Camie for holding a spot for everyone).

Craig came out and spun his tales of the messy yet hopeful. It's fun to watch him do these solo gigs now that he has three albums worth of material to pull from. And I absolutely love his touring band. Not only are they nice guys, they play together really well. It's fun to watch.

I admit, I watched both nights of Japandroids from back stage. It was really awesome to be able to watch them play their guts out (which they do), but moreso, i love watching the crowd. There's something oddly romantic about watching these twentysomenthings,smooshed right against the stage, screaming along to every damn word, sweating through the new shirt they just bought. It made me remember my time smashed up against the barricades, for every single damn show i went to, singing all the songs.

Now I'm backstage, watching my friend get ready to go out and sing a cover with Japandroids.

Both shows were fun. Exploring Philly was really nice, because it ended up being 72 degrees while we were there (as opposed to snow and below 30 temperatures back in Akron. We stayed downtown, so we ended up milling around Terminal Market, and eating poke somewhere in Chinatown. My only real complaint about Philadelphia is the cost of parking; we paid almost $60 a night, which wasn't far off from what we had paid for our hotel.