There is something comforting about seeing Joey Cape on a stage these days. Whoever he is playing with, however loud or mellow the music he is playing, it’s always faithful ol’Caper, laidback and gamboling around with his usual simper.
He stopped at Montreal’s Café Campus last Monday with the Scorpios (Jon Snodgrass and Brian Wahlstrom) on their Tribute to Tony Sly tour. Joey has made it clear in the past that Montréal is a city he is especially fond of, and so the Café Campus was packed tight with fans expecting to spend quite an enjoyable evening with the Caper and his buddies.
Mike Moak, frontman of Albany NY punk outfit After the Fall, opened the night with a few acoustic songs of his own. Not bad, considering it is material he is just ‘working on’ for an eventual solo project. Then they walked up to the stage, Joey and Jon with their acoustic guitars and Brian who sat at the piano. Nothing fancy: just three talented musicians and a huge repertoire of great songs to choose from.
And maybe that’s why he took a fancy to Montréal, because whatever song he would start strumming on his guitar, whether something from Scorpios’ record, an acoustic rendition of an old Lagwagon classic, a Bad Astronaut masterpiece (yes, Minus is an absolute, incontestable masterpiece), or a lesser known song from his solo library, he would invariably get a loud cheer from the crowd, and soon people would be singing along.
And what a setlist it was! Of course they played a few Scorpios song—Waiting for a Spaceship, Lifer, Weighin’ In (easily their best song, and it really lets you appreciate the soothing country voice of Jon Snodgrass)—and the crowd knew and appreciated them as much as the plentiful Lagwagon songs that peppered the night. It really is a testament to Joey Cape’s talent as a songwriter that Lagwagon songs lend themselves so perfectly to the acoustic guitar and piano format. It just feels organic to hear them played live in that way. We heard, among others, I Must Be Hateful, Alien 8, Wind in Your Sails, Whipping Boy (for which he was joined by Mike from After the Fall), and, to my utter delight, The Contortionist.
There was an awkward moment when a few drunk guys attempted, mostly unsuccessfully, to get a mosh pit and some body surfing going during Alien 8. They were just trying to have fun, sure, but it seemed in such stark contrast with the mellow vibe of the acoustic music being played, they ended up looking like lame dudes who couldn’t appreciate this kind of music and were ruining it for others in the process. Kudos to the staffer who soon put an end to the craziness and threatened to throw them out of the venue.
Though the evening was filled with great sing-alongs, everyone was anticipating the moment when Joey would start on his song Montreal, off his second solo record. It was definitely a highlight of the night, especially when staple of the Montreal punk scene Hugo Mudie joined on stage to deliver the French verse he sings on the album as well.
Of course, considering the occasion for that tour, there was a portion of the night devoted to remembering the late Tony Sly, and so they played a few well known NUFAN pieces like Justified Black Eye and International You Day, as well as a later Tony Sly song, Liver Let Die, an ideal song to close the set and lead into the encore.
All in all it was a memorable evening of acoustic music that ended with a fun take on NOFX’s Linoleum. They still have a few stops left on that tour. Don’t miss ‘em if they drop by your city!
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