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Cap’n Jazz played Riot Fest (review, pics, video)

Jawbreaker wasn’t the only highly anticipated emo/punk reunion at Riot Fest 2017. Two slots before them on the same stage was Cap’n Jazz, who broke up one year before Jawbreaker and are back for a few shows, which are their first since a brief 2010 reunion and might be their last. Some reunions (like Jawbreaker) are so a band can write a new chapter of their career, but the Cap’n Jazz reunion really just feels like a way for these guys (who currently play in American Football, Owen, Joan of Arc, and other projects) to have some fun with their old songs, and for their fans to have fun too. Tim Kinsella even introduced the band by saying, “We were a band 100 years ago. We’re not a band now, but sometimes we do this,” and he was clearly letting himself have a great time. The last time I saw Tim was with Joan of Arc, and the time before that was with Owls (whose reunion resulted in new music, unlike Cap’n Jazz), and he was in a pretty serious mood. At Cap’n Jazz’s set at Riot Fest, he was cracking jokes the entire time (his brother and drummer Mike Kinsella would try to interrupt him by starting a song but Tim would cut Mike back off), he stage dove tons of times, he would throw his tambourine into the crowd, only to quickly say he actually needed it for the next song, only to throw it right back into the crowd. And he ended the set by sticking the mic and mic cable through one leg of his pants, pulling it out by the foot, and putting it through the other leg of his pants. It was all pretty hilarious, and it added to the carefree nature of a Cap’n Jazz show. In a recent interview with BV, Mike talked about how there’s a slight difference in intimacy when there’s a barrier between you and the crowd, compared to the basement shows Cap’n Jazz played in their heyday with audience members falling into his drums. But I’d say Tim did a pretty good job of creating an intimacy with the audience at this festival set.

The antics and stage banter made for some of the most memorable moments of the set, but it only worked because the music sounded so great. Cap’n Jazz basically wrote the blueprint for the sound that the late ’00s “emo revival” bands were channelling, and at Riot Fest, they reminded you that there’s nothing like the real thing. Mike usually sings and plays guitar these days (in American Football and Owen), but he’s still a beast behind the kit. Tim channelled the youthful angst of those scream-sung melodies like he’s still in his 20s. Victor Villarreal and Sam Zurick still nailed all those off-kilter, sloppy-but-tight guitar parts, and Mike and Tim’s cousin Nate Kinsella (who is also a current American Football member) did a fine job filling in for Davey von Bohlen. (Someone in the crowd actually asked where Davey was, and Tim quickly replied “He wasn’t interested. Next question!”) They played basically all the songs you’d want to hear from their small but rich discography, and yes, they did their “Take On Me” cover, complete with Tim changing the words in the verses to be something along the lines of “We’re talking away / I don’t know what / I’m to say / But I’m the guy who wrote this song,” which the crowd was also loving. We also got a nice surprise when Braid’s Bob Nanna came out to sing with Tim on a song. It’s easy to understand why, considering the types of music these musicians make now, they don’t want to do this thing all the time. But it’s a pretty amazing thing that we’re getting these few shows at all, and that they’re such a good time.

Check out pictures from Cap’n Jazz’s Riot Fest set in the gallery above, and find some video clips below. We also caught Cap’n Jazz at their Riot Fest aftershow, and previously at FYF Fest and at another Chicago show at House of Vans with Hop Along. The band’s 2017 tour brings them to Brooklyn Steel on Saturday (9/23); tickets are on sale (you can also enter to win a pair). Don’t forget to read our interviews with Mike and Tim Kinsella where they talk about the Cap’n Jazz reunion, American Football, and more.

Cap'n Jazz, Chicago, 2017

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