Live Review / Photos: Half Japanese, Double Dagger @ the Ottobar (2009.07.24)

Bruce Willen of Double Dagger I was busy being behind the lens for this show, so I called in a favor from guest celeb-writer Benn Ray of Atomic Books and the Mobtown Shank to weigh in on this show.

All photos: Greg Szeto

Full live audio by the Baltimore Taper can be found at Bmore Musically Informed. Here are the best/choicest cuts:

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MP3: Half Japanese – You’re Gonna Miss Me (frikkin sweet 13th Floor Elevators cover!!!!!!!)

MP3: Double Dagger – The Lie / The Truth from More (2009)

Double Dagger’s set brought forth their army of teen fans – slam-dancing and moshing and enjoying the punk rock like anyone with youth on their side should. Confused aging hipsters who were obviously there to see Half Japanese curiously formed a perimeter. It was easy to see they were not familiar with Double Dagger and their fans, but these guys all had a glimmer in their eyes – they remembered punk shows of the ’80s and early ’90s.

You could see them slowly winding themselves up to jump into the fray…and eventually they did.

Nolen Strals of Double DaggerThe front of the stage was a swirling mass of what could best be described as father and son night at the hardcore show (in the best possible sense – Double Dagger forged a multi-generational community with their music – an uncommon feat by any measure).

Double Dagger’s Nolen Strals summed it up best from the stage: “It’s great to see ol’ Matt Selander being tossed around by a bunch of teenagers.” Their set, full of fury (Bruce Willen’s approach to his bass has become so magnificently aggressive and proficient that Nolen’s frequent departures from the stage into the audience almost seem like more of a safety move than a desire to be among those there to see them play) proved why they continue to be one of the most vital bands to ever emerge from Baltimore.

Usually with this sort of show, you would expect the Ottobar to bleed audience between bands – after the Double Dagger set, it’s fair to assume that the kids there to see the earlier acts (whose parents had been waiting patiently in the back to take them home) would leave without giving Half Japanese a try. And a few did, but many of the kids stayed on. For those that did, you could watch their demeanor shift from “What the fuck is this” to “This is awesome” in the course of just 3 songs.

_MG_5221 Half Japanese played their standard show that is so legendary it keeps fans waiting anxiously until next year when they’ll most likely get together again. It’s always hard to tell with them if they “get Daniel Johnston” or if they “are Daniel Johnston.” Meaning that their outsider approach to punk at this point has to be at the very least self-aware.

But at the same time, David and Jad Fair both were wearing Crocs while playing, evidence of their continuing obliviousness or indifference to punk conventions. It is in the absence of these conventions where the charm of Half Japanese proves itself – Jad’s ridiculous tiny-guitar, David’s mesmerizing dance moves, the awkward and bizarre playing and in general goofy stage demeanor that reveals more a group of friends having fun, creating something unique and interesting rather than what one thinks of as a traditional band – and in this case, the former is every bit as fun to watch as the latter.

Half Japanese

_MG_5218 _MG_5216 _MG_5201 _MG_5191 Jad and David Fair of Half Japanese Jad Fair of Half Japanese

Double Dagger

_MG_5179 _MG_5164 Nolen Strals of Double Dagger _MG_5166 Bruce Willen of Double Dagger Denny Bowen of Double Dagger Nolen Strals of Double Dagger Nolen Strals of Double Dagger Nolen Strals of Double Dagger

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