Live Show Review: Cap’n Jazz at Bimbo’s, San Francisco

Cap’n Jazz
August 27th at Bimbo’s, San Francisco

When I walked up to Bimbo’s for the Cap’n Jazz show, I was pretty intimidated by the crowd of kids clad head to toe in ripped clothing and spiky accessories. I quietly stood out of place in line and waited for doors to open. It seemed only appropriate that the two underage guys ahead of me were talking about negative funds and Four Loko. Standing there, I started reminiscing about the days of teen angst and loving emo, a fitting prelude to the nostalgic experience of Cap’n Jazz’s reunion tour. Minutes later I snapped out of it to realize that I was holding half of the line up with my daydream.

Most of the attendees were dressed in grunge apparel and decorated in piercings that I didn’t think existed. The venue was filled with an under 21 crowd, which had me feeling more out of place than my sweater dress did. All of this was pretty comical, because Bimbo’s is a classy joint.

I watched some of Abe Vigoda’s set, which I found unremarkable, and after all was said and done, not a suitable opener for the night. My attention during their set came and went, so the only mental notes I could muster up were about ironic haircuts, graphic t-shirts, and how their untrimmed guitar strings were distracting. The crowd wasn’t moving much at all, which made me nervous for Cap’n Jazz. Abe Vigoda closed with a jazz outro of sorts, which I took as a cue to refill my drink. When I returned everyone was throwing elbows trying to get to the front of the crowd, and the room was filled to the brim with anticipation. The following act was about to blow everyone’s minds.

Cap’n Jazz has a short-lived, albeit very successful, discography, which includes one full-length album and a couple 7”s. This makes their fans easy to please because they are able to play every song they’ve recorded and then some at their shows. Frontman Tim Kinsella played the part of Midwestern charmer with his good looks and vintage attire. The remaining four members, including Tim’s brother on the drums, were working just as hard but seemed to lend the spotlight to the singer. As soon as they started playing “In the Clear”, it became obvious what this band is about and why everyone was willing to overdraw their bank accounts to see them on this reunion tour. Within the blink of an eye everyone on stage was sweating and playing their instruments like it would be their last time.

What followed was your typical emo or punk show. The band dove into the crowd and vice-versa. Skin was broken but only because everyone was trying to have a better time than the next guy. Every now and again I would hear a request for a Promise Ring or Joan of Arc song, none of which were fulfilled. It was clear that they had an agenda and were sticking to it. I felt the room go through an entire range of emotions. When things started getting rowdy and people began getting a little too out of control, the band would take it down a notch with a heavier song à la “Planet Shhh” or “Little League.” The night came full circle for me when they closed out the set with my favorite “Oh Messy Life” and finally “Puddle Splashers.” They closed out the night by covering “Take on Me”, and I felt alright with the fact that Tim Kinsella had to refer to a crumpled up piece of paper to follow the lyrics.

These guys lived up to their reputation and proved that they are the stand-up band that everyone has been whispering about for more than 10 years. I left smiling ear to ear, and decided to put my emo nostalgia in the freezer until the next time Cap’n Jazz comes around.

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