All photos by Julian Ramirez
There are tell-tale signs to knowing you’re about to see a good show. One of them is seeing the lead singer of a band going up to every single security personnel, shaking their hands, an quietly thanking them. This isn’t just a common courtesy, but a preemptive gesture for keeping everyone off the ground as they crowd surf, stage dive, and more or least exist in a mix of on and off stage. Tim Kinsella did just that before erupting on stage with the rest of Cap’n Jazz. Even with that sign of a good show, little did I realize just how explosive they would be. Mere moments after the familiar strums of “Oh Messy Life” began, Kinsella rushed to the edge of the stage and use me as support and he leaned in the crowd, holding onto the top of my head as his voice roared during the last of House of Van’s summer House Parties Series.
As he pushed himself up and into the crowd, I managed to snap a decent shot and couldn’t help but ponder how I would review this show. Honestly, at one point it crossed my mind to let the photographs tell the story and just write one simple sentence summing up the whole night (it’s the last line of the review). It’s so difficult to fully encompass just how great the extremes of Cap’n Jazz’s punk fueled presence complimented the more tempered performance from Hop Along. These were two very different bands excelling at their respective sounds with tons of success.
Hop Along’s set started with Francis Quinlan alone on stage, performing “Happy To See Me” as the lights slowly increased their glow until she popped brightly in frame. Seeing her so gracefully take the stage and pour so much of herself into the song was a sight to behold. Quinlan’s voice has such a raspy and emotive quality that really shined during this song.It was a great way to build up excitement as the rest of the band joined her to add some extensive sound to the night. They played plenty of tracks off Painted Shut and even delved into a new song of their just completed new album. Quinlan look poised and relaxed on stage, having now worry about the the crowd as they swayed along to her wonderful songs.
That primer of solid rock, Cap’n Jazz proceeded to destroy the crowd with an electrifying performance. Whether the band were laser focused on their lightning quick playing or Tim Kinsella was blasting into a french horn in between bouts of stage diving, the crowd was understandably going nuts. I don’t think there was a single song where a crowd surfer wasn’t finding his or her way toward the front to get in on the action. It all made sense seeing as this was the first honest to goodness Cap’n Jazz shows in seven years in their hometown. Kinsella half joked “I’m a people pleaser”, then sarcastically lamented on the entire reunion tour as he continued to flail around stage. No matter the ratio of honesty to comedy in that statement, Kinsella and the rest of the crew looked like they were having the time of their lives among their devoted fans.
I wasn’t lucky or old enough to have caught Cap’n Jazz during their inception, but I have seen guitarist Victor Villareal, bassist Bobby Burg, and the Kinsella family (Tim, Mike, and Nate) in their respective projects in recent years and I expected a lot from this show. Somehow, th sum was even greater than it’s incredibly talented parts and it was the madhouse I had hoped it would be. There were simply too many iconic moments happening on and off stage for this show not to be cemented in everyone’s mind for decades to come. Kinsella slowing down to read the lyrics of “Tokyo” off his phone only to explode during “We Are Scientists”. Various stages of dress as Tim Kinsella tossed himself into the crowd. Their cover of a-ha’s “Take on Me” in the middle of the night pushed the already energized crowd over the edge, with the crowd yelling the chorus back at the band with every ounce of joyful bliss within them.
Early on Kinsella tossed plenty of t-shirts out into the audience only to be met back with more and more items hurled back to the stage. “This is just like a hardcore show” Kinsella remarked as various types of shirts, underwear, and accessories made their way up on stage, coming up just as quickly as Tim would later toss his tambourine and French horn into the audience. Both of hich he would coyly ask for back; “I need them for the next song.” Save or a few hits to the House of Vans sign with said instruments as they made their way back, it was all relatively safe and enjoyably absurd. During the quieter moments of “Tokyo” and “Que Suerte”, Tim picked up the remaining items from stage and slowly returned them to the sea of bodies from which they came. “I have a red flannel. Is this yours? Seriously, though. Wire frame glasses, oh yeah these are yours.”
During the final songs in the encore, by brain turned off and I just dove further into the fun of show. “We got time for three songs if we play them really fast.” They sped through them as slowly as they could, letting the crowd enjoy as much of this experience as they could, ending it all with “Ooh Do I Love You”. Cap’n Jazz had taken complete control of me and the crowd with the most boisterous sound they could summon and as they exited the stage a final time, one phrase kept running through my mind:
Good fuckin’ show, man.