For many, the phrase “emo music” conjures thoughts of 2007 Myspace-core bands like Panic! At the Disco and My Chemical Romance being blasted through the speakers of their local Hot Topic. While there’s nothing wrong with those bands, the Midwest has been harboring its own much smaller, more intimate emo scene for the past few decades. Many bands in this scene, such as American Football, have attained cult status through their themes of heartbreak, aimlessness, and angst. Chicago based Cap’n Jazz has released only one full length album, the eloquently named Burritos, Inspiration Point, Fork Balloon Sports, Cards in the Spokes, Automatic Biographies, Kites, Kung Fu, Trophies, Banana Peels We’ve Slipped On and Egg Shells We’ve Tippy Toed Over, and one anthology (Analphabetapolothology). Their discography is concise yet hugely influential within the scene. So, when the band decided to perform in their native Chicago for the first time in seven years, misunderstood youths from all over the city flocked to the House of Vans.
Upon meeting up with a friend, we entered the line for the show, which was over three blocks long (!!). We waited anxiously in line, unsure if we would get in due to the first come first serve policy. After about an hour of inching forward along sidewalks and alleyways, we finally made it to the entrance of the venue. Neither of us had heard of the House of Vans before, and expected the usual small Chicago bar. What we did not expect was a gigantic, smoky warehouse with an indoor skate park and a gigantic stage. The neon glow of the lights looked like something out of Blade Runner, and colorful murals and skate decks layered the walls. The staff was friendly and talkative, and they gave out beer to of-age fans. In case that wasn’t enough, a gigantic security guard even gave my friend a free slice of deep dish pizza.
The opening act, Hop Along, played an excellent set that combined indie rock with explosive grit. When they finished, Cap’n Jazz quickly took the stage and immediately launched their set. The band members were clearly having a great time with the crowd. Frontman Tim Kinsella asked for audience members to throw their shirts on stage (he got dozens). Somehow, he managed to dive into the crowd without dropping his mic stand multiple times, screaming his cryptic lyrics as his fans literally lifted him up. He repeatedly threw his tambourine into the crowd. As my friend Mike foolishly tried to catch it, the tambourine slammed into his hand, bruising him. Elated that one of his favorite musicians bruised him, Mike enthusiastically jumped back into the pit.
Cap’n Jazz will be playing more shows across the US, so be sure not to miss being able to see these elusive emo legends live.