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The Cap'n Jazz reunion set

“Reunion” is a tricky word. It implies a reunification after a long period apart, a return to old ways, a plan. Perhaps that would explain the begrudging look on Tim Kinsella’s face during the Cap’n Jazz set at The Empty Bottle Friday night. His facial expression had nothing to do with his position onstage, singing as part of the beloved emo quintet, but more a part of the reaction to the word “reunion.”

The group performed as part of the Joan of Arc Don’t Mind Control Variety Show, which boasted 15-minute sets by bands affiliated with the Tim Kinsella’s post-Cap’n Jazz musical project. Even without an appearance by those five musicians together onstage, the show offered a solidly entertaining and eclectic mix of music.

The A.V. Club happened upon the scoop Thursday night, that Cap’n Jazz would “reunite” at the show. Perhaps Tim Kinsella sensed reunion fever in the crowd, which bloomed into a sold-out capacity only a handful of hours before the show, and maybe that put something of a frown on his face. But, take it from this perspective: If a show you’d planned for months meant as something of a communal gathering for friends and fans was suddenly overshadowed by the mere memory of a former band a mere 24 hours before the event is set in motion, wouldn’t you be a little concerned?

But, as the Cap’n Jazz guys came together, they showed their set was anything but a “reunion” gig. They weren’t in it for the glory: They stuck to their 15-minute time, with Tim Kinsella carefully monitoring the time through the four song set.

The name Cap’n Jazz wasn’t even mentioned: They played under the title of “Local Cover Band.” And it turned out to be a title that summed up all the positive connotations one could associate with a cover band: A passion for the music, little cares for the glamour of “rock stardom” and a mind set straight for the Chicago community.

Most of all, this was no reunion set. “Reunions” are for groups that end. The banner “Cap’n Jazz” stopped flying in the ’90s, but the bond between bandmates has stuck together through the years. You could see it in the passionate, swelling performance and on the smile on every band members’ face (well, almost everyone’s); You could hear it in the perfectly performed songs in the tune of “Little League,” “Oh Messy Life,” “We Are Scientists” and “Que Suerte!”; And you could feel it in the pulsating catharsis that captured the band and crowd and rolled it into one big frenzy.

Reunion implies mapped out. It’s the antithesis of a cathartic release. And catharsis is what Cap’n Jazz did best, and catharsis is what Local Cover Band brought Friday night.

Cap’n Jazz/Local Cover Band – “Oh Messy Life” [via Jessica Hopper]:

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UPDATE: Samuel Cotterall posted a bootleg of last night’s Cap’n Jazz set. Four great songs in 13 minutes and 25 seconds, straight to your computer.

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