Artists: Joey Cape, Decent Criminal
Venue: Lodge Room
Starting one’s week with live music is always recommended. I spent this last Sunday night back in Highland Park for some acoustic (and old fashioned) punk rock, as Joey Cape (lead singer of SoCal punk veterans Lagwagon) played a solo acoustic set at the Lodge Room.
Opening the night was Decent Criminal, a young and loud five-piece punk rock group. Their opening two songs had me worried, as the tracks felt a bit faceless and the vocals were drowned out by the instruments. Thankfully, on their third song, they started to show off some character, adding in ska riffs, funkier breaks and power pop choruses. Tracks like their new one “Soothe” had some strong harmonies (though their vocals still felt buried underneath the instruments during the show), and ending their set with a grungy take on T-Rex‘s “20th Century Boy” added some spastic fun to the set.
Cape came out not too long afterwards. I’ll admit to not being an expert on the Lagwagon catalog, but it wasn’t necessary for enjoying Cape’s acoustic takes on these normally ripping punk tracks, as well as his own solo material. He opened the show with Latin-flavored “Errands” from his 2014 solo album, followed by “Going for the Bronze” and “Before My Heart Attack”. While the songs were emotional, Cape lifted the mood with self-deprecating humor and story breaks.
“Whipping Boy” got the crowd excited and singing along, as did the biting “Know it All”. Cape almost passed over doing “It’s Always Sunny”, claiming he didn’t really like the song, but the protest of a single fan in the audience pushed him to give in. Cape then went into a set of three songs from his latest solo album A Good Year to Forget, written during the pandemic while Cape, in his own words, spent much of his time stuck in a small room with his dog Mochi. The title track and “Saturday Night Fever” both sounded great live, carrying undertones of existential dread and weariness that certainly characterized 2020.
Cape then made (possibly a mistake) the room open to requests, and was inundated with them. He played “I Must be Hateful” and “Alien 8” (another sing along moment), and a rough version of “Tracks”, which he fully admitted to not really remembering. Sadly my request for Bad Astronaut‘s “Break Your Frame” did not make it in. He ended the set with Lagwagon’s “Making Friends”, one of the group’s most popular tracks, the murderous love song “Violins”, and a respectful cover of his late friend Tony Sly‘s “International You Day”. Despite his generally jovial banter, Cape bid farewell with a heartfelt thanks to the fans and friends that came out and left the stage.
While it appears that he may have come out again for a two song encore which I sadly missed, the show still was a satisfying evening of humor and heartfelt songs in a great live setting. Be sure to give a listen to Cape’s latest solo album here.