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July 26, 2010

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It was hot at the beginning of Sunday’s Pool Party show at the Williamsburg Waterfront, very hot. Before I even got to the show, I’d soaked through my shirt.

The clouds over Manhattan looked dark and menacing as The Death Set sound checked. A woman announced that in the event of a thunderstorm, the show would be moved to Brooklyn Bowl and promptly start again. I was glad they’d made some sort of arrangement, I was going to be pissed if I missed Cap’n Jazz.

The Death Set was pretty forgettable. A couple of goofy young guys who wanted, badly, to sound like the punk tracks from Ill Communication. They didn’t quite cut it.

And then it started to rain. It was welcome at first; the temperature dropped a good ten degrees and made standing on the concrete manageable. But it rained harder and harder. The same woman who made the announcement earlier came out about halfway through The Death Set’s set and said the show was moving.

About a thousand people made their way the handful of blocks to Brooklyn Bowl in the rain. My girlfriend and I ended up way at the back of the line, near North 12th and Berry, about two blocks from the entrance. It was defeating. We tried to use the VIP passes I received for writing this article to get into Brooklyn Bowl, but the large, violent-looking bouncer said they were no good. Cops came out and said the show was packed to capacity; no one was getting in. The police broke up the line.

We gave up and headed to the bar. I whined about how Cap’n Jazz was one of those bands I’ve always wanted to see but never thought I could. Analphabetapolothology was my soundtrack nearly a decade ago. The band changed how I thought about music, as it did everyone who heard it, and between its members spawned a number of great acts. I’ve seen Joan of Arc a handful of times, I wish I could’ve seen The Promise Ring, I saw Make Believe once, and caught Owls when it toured and thought it would be the closest thing to seeing Cap’n Jazz. And now Cap’n Jazz was here, and I couldn’t get in.

Fuck it, I decided, let’s try again. We headed back to Brooklyn Bowl and walked up to the door right as a woman screamed, “Anyone with VIP or press passes can come in!” We were golden.

In all this time, over an hour, No Age, another band I was excited to see, had yet to begin. Once the band started, it didn’t disappoint. No Age was loud and driving, tight and professional. The vocals were a bit low, but it didn’t matter. The blend of noise pop and fast, hard rock was great live. The band slammed through its set, pretty much non-stop, for about 40 minutes. People were crowd surfing, cheering, and everyone seemed to be having a good time.

Brooklyn Bowl being packed to capacity was bullshit. It looked like there was room. I’m sure there are fire regulations and whatnot, but I only had to wait about two minutes for a beer, that’s how not packed it was. Jelly or Veoba or Chuck Schumer or whoever really need to put a better system in place for these things. Moving an outdoor show to a bowling alley won’t do.

Cap’n Jazz was amazing, no better word for it. Tim Kinsella’s stage presence was ridiculous and prickish in the best way possible. When people jumped on the stage to crowd surf, he’d push them before they were ready. He rolled on the crowd while he sang, grabbed the shoe off one guy as he floated past, held the French horn comically high above him when he played, and was just all around entertaining. Davey von Bohlen was also really into it. He thrashed on the guitar, rocked out with the drummer, and was having a blast.

The audience loved it too and knew every word. A high note was during “In the Clear” when Kinsella was supposed to scream the alphabet. He couldn’t seem to find his microphone in time and everyone picked up the slack, “A! B! C!” Kinsella shrugged.

“Oh Messy Life” and “Little League” were other high points to the show, the audience seemed to go most crazy for Cap’n Jazz’s only cover song, “Take On Me.” People danced and screamed the words, the same words Kinsella read from a paper as he sang.

While Cap’n Jazz’s sound is sloppy and spastic, it was actually really tight and professional. It’s nice to see that. So many bands today seem to be pristine pros or sloppy noise. Balance is hard to come by.

There was no encore from Cap’n Jazz as the band had another engagement to get to in New Jersey. Lightning Bolt was next, but really, the show ended when Cap’n Jazz walked off the stage. Lightning Bolt took a ridiculous amount of time to set up and it was really for nothing [unless you’re super into spazzy Rhode Island hardcore and this was what you had been waiting for all day—Ed.]. While the drummer/screamer/guy-who-wears-a-mask was good at drumming, Lightning Bolt sounded like any band you hear at a marathon hardcore show at the VFW. Unimpressive.

Overall the clusterfuck that was this week’s Pool Party turned out great. I feel bad for the hundreds of people that didn’t get into the show. It’s a damn shame to have missed a legendary band back together again.

New York Press

Matthew Stewart