My Musical Adventures

I Can't Control Myself: The Horrors, Japanese Motors @ The Independent, 10/3/09

I spent the day roaming around Portland after last night’s show: Powell’s Books, record stores, Voodoo Doughnuts, a Dr. Marten store….and then I hopped on a plane, flew home to SF, and jumped in my car and went straight to see The Horrors. It would be the 5th show in 6 days for me, but even though I’d seen The Horrors 3 times already this year, I couldn’t resist. I can’t control myself when it comes to these things…..

After the normal parking debacle that comes with shows at The Independent, I grabbed my ticket from will call and walked in. I waltzed right up to the left corner of the stage, because I wanted to stand in front of Joshua this time. Normally I stand on the right side of the stage at this venue…I don’t know why, but I have particular spots at every venue. In perfect timing, the cocktail waitress came by, I got my drink, and all was good for HRC.

Japanese Motors took the stage right away. I was trying to find a common thread to The Horrors’ sound, but mostly had a hard time. It was fairly happy rock music. But really the thing I had a hard time getting over was the singer’s teddy bear sweater.


He had as much frenetic energy as a child that sweater belonged on….bouncing around the stage, and, towards the end, taking his guitar off and flat out dropping it on the floor and somewhat menacingly holding the mic stand over it. I just couldn’t get into it.

As the Death Angel shirt-wearing guitar tech set down the enormous block of guitar doodads in front of me, I remembered how much I love shows without a stupid barrier. There’s nothing I love more than being that close, where I can see all the details. The setlist was posted in plain view…all Primary Colours songs…but there were no surprises on there. It’s odd to draw a comparison between The Horrors and Mastodon, but I love both albums and haven’t tired of listening to them be played live multiple times this year.

In fact, recounting my life this year in albums; if Mastodon’s Crack the Skye was the album that played as I decided I needed to look inward and rearrange my life, and Behemoth’s Evangelion was the album that supported the anger in my loss and failures, then The Horrors’ Primary Colours has been the glimmer of hope of finding that feeling of falling in love with someone again.

I overheard one of the crew say, ‘the band is in their pre-show huddle’, which made me giggle to think of The Horrors in a huddle. The band walked out on stage in their dapper duds, Faris joining them last. It’s almost overwhelming how close I am to Joshua, as he starts stepping on the pedals with his pointy shoes.


Ahhh…’Mirror’s Image’ is the perfect beginning…to anything. These guys are so young but they really have it down to a science. They are mysterious. Faris plays the role of the reluctant frontman; there’s something about his performance that gives you the vibe that he doesn’t want to be there, yet his performance is so genuine and charismatic that you’re left trying to figure him out. Joshua hides behind his mop of hair, so you’re left reading the slight movements of his lips instead of his eyes.


There’s a guy in the crowd that shouts between songs, “Faris….you’re a GOD!”. This same guy continues to beg for Strange House material between songs. So a few songs later, Faris walks to the front of the stage and crouches down and beckons the guy to come to him, and he hugs him and I think whispers something in his ear. The guy never said another peep. I really want to know what was said…

During ‘Do You Remember’, I noticed that Faris kept turning his head and looking past me, singing “Can you remember the first time we met…Don’t you remember the first caress”, so I’m thinking, ‘how romantic, he must be looking at his lady friend, or something’. So I turn to check her out….no girl. In fact, there’s nobody over there. But there is a mirror on that wall…


It was time for two of my favorites, ‘New Ice Age’ and ‘Scarlet Fields’. I’m totally geeking out on the guitar…I don’t know a thing about what he’s doing, but it doesn’t matter….it’s just that the sound that I listen to through my headphones is being created right in front of me. I’m so close to it, I can hear the sound actually coming from the guitar and not just the speakers.

‘Can’t Control Myself’ really gets me going……oh, how I love this song. And I mean, really, this should be my current theme song.

Wrapping up the set with ‘Sea Within a Sea’, and thus finishing the posted setlist that I can see, I wonder what’s next. I’d learned reading one of my twitter friend’s show updates that they played some Strange House material in Austin last week…so my fingers are crossed.

They come back out and first play a cover of Suicide’s ‘Ghost Rider’, which was awesome. Then, they launch into ‘Sheena is a Parasite’. They emanate a different energy when they play this material….much more chaotic. They wrap up with ‘Gloves’.

I didn’t want it to end.

The guitar tech politely handed me a setlist.


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