Joan of Arc
with This Is Me Ignoring You
The Sapphire Supper Club, Orlando • July 22, 1998
Much like their predecessor, Cap’n Jazz, Joan of Arc possesses the unique ability to draw your scorn and love all at the same time. I can honestly say that I like the band, but from time to time, I really fucking hate them. Pin-pointing what it is exactly is impossible. I would imagine, however, that it has something to do with the fact that singer/guitarist Tim Kinsella seems to come across as the world’s most nonchalant prick, if you’re one that lets yourself jump to quick conclusions.
I caught Joan of Arc in Vero Beach when they were on tour last summer, and was very impressed. The band I saw that night was loose, playful, and apparently drunk. I was looking forward to a repeat performance at the Sapphire this time around. I did not get it.
That’s not to say that they played poorly, but the show lacked the energy I was hoping for. I’ve got this theory about how the first time that you see a band will always be your best live experience of that band. My thinking is that your memory has a habit of over-exaggerating the details until the past has become a more vivid experience. I had a year to romanticize my previous Joan of Arc encounter. That’s a long time. It’s also a lot for a band to live up too, but there’s nothing wrong with having high standards/expectations.
The night felt really awkward to me. There were two shows that night at the Sapphire, with the Joan of Arc show being the early one. I’ve always been of the opinion that if there’s daylight, it’s too early for bands to be playing. It was still very light out when Orlando’s This Is Me Ignoring You started. And since they, thankfully, played a fairly short set, it was still pretty bright out when they finished. Their set of whiny, by-the-numbers emo plunkings failed to keep my interest. They seem to be months of practice and a few new songs away from being tolerable yet.
A very shy and reserved Joan of Arc took the stage, a stark contrast from the band I had seen just a year ago. They looked tired and uncomfortable on the high stage at the Sapphire. As I said before, they definitely played very well, it just seemed as though this was the last place on earth they wanted to be. The use of samples and electronic sounds has expanded and improved of late. They turned in a solid performance, even though they appeared to be totally uninterested. As I talked to friends after the show, it seemed like I was the only person who wasn’t happy with it. I just really don’t enjoy watching a band that isn’t having a good time. Several times through the course their set, I saw members of the band wince in pain at some of the sounds they were creating. I guess that’s one of the perils of playing softly intricate music, there’s nothing to hide behind. The old rock motto, “if you ain’t good, play loud,” just doesn’t apply to Joan of Arc. No Marshall stacks, no loud drums, just quiet songs with a lot of space and a roomful of pale kids in black-rimmed glasses staring blankly at the band. I understand that awkwardness, and I forgive them for it. I was still left a little unsatisfied. Maybe next year.