It was 6:45 when I checked the time on my phone, as the clock in my car is no longer functioning. The chances of finding a parking spot on Sunset Blvd at the seven O’clock hour is nearly an impossible feat, but I had given myself a healthy amount of fuck-around time. To my surprise, I managed to squeak into a spot, right then, as the hipster coffee shop flipped their signs to ‘Closed’. I walked up the street as the sun began setting, and stopped in front of Permanent Records. This was not a night to get distracted with digging for vinyl, but like most addicts, I gave in and checked it out. Forty-nine minutes later, I was carrying a large box of records back to my car, ignoring the glares of the residents of Echo Park, who likely assumed I had robbed the store.
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When I entered the Echo, I was told The Cairo Gang was set to open in thirty-seven minutes, and CaP’n Jazz wouldn’t be taking the stage for several hours. I limped to the smoking patio, having rolled my ankle carrying the 40 lb. box of wax, and sat down next to two LA transplants in their forties, celebrating the fact that one saw CaP’n Jazz over twenty years earlier in a suburban Chicago pool hall. It’s been long enough since I wasn’t one of the ‘old guys’ at the show, but when we all filed back into the hall an hour later, we would be crushed by the raw energy of LA’s youth.
It’s been over twenty years since CaP’n Jazz toured, though there have been a handful of reunion shows since, and the kids in attendance were not going to risk the possibility of failing to cross them off their punk show bucket list. As Mike Kinsella put the finishing touches on his drum kit, and the band started to wander to the stage, the temperature in the room rose to a boiling point, and sweat began to form. Singer, Tim Kinsella, welcomed the audience with a large grin, and the band opened with “Oh Messy Life.” The attendees on the floor shifted forward, and everyone carried the song through the end, hurling screams at their emo idol.
The set’s overall energy was higher than I imagined, and the crowd was impressive, both in vigor and conduct. Kinsella took shifts from the stage to the floor, often passing the mic to adoring fans, clustered to participate. Guitarists Victor Villareal and Davey von Bohlen broke down each song to a stair crawl, which coupled perfectly with drummer, Mike Kinsella’s, ever changing tempos.
Highlights of the evening’s performance were “In the Clear”, “Basil’s Kite” and “Little League”, which is starting to cement itself as a career defining song, and clearly an audience favorite. The band kept it going through the final song, “ohh do I love you,” and all seemed to leave with a satisfied smile. The band will be doing several more appearances through the Midwest and the Northeast this summer, and should be attended if you’re in town…. And if you make it, bring Victor a pair of Croakies.
Words: Dave Unbuckled
Photos: Hector Vergara