Having played FYF Fest (and a few Cali club shows), House of Vans Chicago, Riot Fest, and a Riot Fest Aftershow, Cap'n Jazz played the last North American show of what might be their last reunion tour at Brooklyn Steel on Saturday (9/23). In classic jokey Tim Kinsella fashion, Tim started off the show by saying, "We're playing our new album in full tonight, no old songs."
Tim actually toned down the stage banter compared to Riot Fest, but plenty of the antics were still there (like throwing his tambourine into the crowd and immediately asking for it back and then throwing it back again). He also sang maybe just a few more of the actual words to "Take On Me" this time! Tim kept the crowd laughing all night, but to echo my Riot Fest review, it only worked because the band was so good. Even if the members are less serious on stage than they were at recent American Football, Joan of Arc, and Owls shows, they really play their hearts out. At this point, Mike Kinsella has spent most of his career singing and playing guitar, but he's still a beast behind the kit. Victor Villarreal and Sam Zurick still know how to play those frenzied riffs, and Nate Kinsella (filling in for Davey von Bohlen) fits in perfectly with the band and looks like he's having the time of his life.
The Brooklyn Steel show was a double dose of reunited '90s bands, with an opening set by The Van Pelt, who have been celebrating the 20th anniversary of Sultans of Sentiment this year. Chris Leo took a moment to talk about when The Van Pelt first heard Cap'n Jazz. He said they had just played a Columbus, OH show, and the show promoter, who bought the Cap'n Jazz album after reading about it in a fanzine, dubbed the album to a tape for them, and they listened to the tape on the way to Chicago. Cap'n Jazz had already broken up by then, but Chris said they soon played with Joan of Arc and "have been bros ever since."
Like the Kinsellas (Joan of Arc and American Football especially), The Van Pelt were in the punk/emo scene, but they were making cleaner and more intricate sounds than most of their peers, which made them a great match for Cap'n Jazz. Saturday night was my first time seeing them, and I imagine they must have been a real treat to see on a small punk show in the '90s, as even after all these years, their live show was so powerful. Their spoken-word-and-clean-guitars sound (which took some cues from Slint) isn't exactly post rock, but it's emotionally overwhelming in the same way that the big post rock bands are. (I wonder if Explosions in the Sky ever took some influence from The Van Pelt.) Their sound is gorgeous but off-kilter and never predictable. It's the type of thing you can really lose yourself in.