Tim Kinsella: Live at Daytrotter, 5/4/16

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When Tim Kinsella took the stage for his Daytrotter live performance with just a chair and an electric guitar, it was obvious that it would be a gift to witness. Based in Chicago all his life, Tim Kinsella was one of the first of the emo movement to capitalize on his eccentric singing voice that has been emulated by countless other emo and pop-punk bands. Without the shroud of a backing band like in his days with Cap’n Jazz and Joan of Arc, Kinsella’s intimate performance is far more emotional than any of his old bands. Alone on a barren stage, Kinsella makes the most of what he can to deliver a chilling set of both recent and age-old songs from his entire detailed discography.

Almost 30 years after the formation of his first band, Kinsella’s curious voice has matured well out of his emo beginnings. In fact, his voice becomes even more emotive when it is not fighting the overwhelming ferocity of emo’s loud guitars and drums. During his performance of “Stamina,” his nasally plea becomes rich and haunting as he coos, “Stamina has proven to be the final virtue.” Stripping down the Joan of Arc track to a single subtle finger-plucking guitar, Kinsella carries the weight of the song all on his own without issue. “All we talk about is money and how we’re tired all the time,” he continues, downtrodden but pushing through all the way.

The lack of brash emo instrumentation allows listeners to respect the dissonance Kinsella has instilled in his songs throughout the career. His voice juxtaposed with a sparse, jagged guitar line on “Jury Duty” makes for a song that is both bleak and emotive as he deadpans with forthright honesty, “I hope I have adequately demonstrated my emptiness.” Both the bleakness and the dissonance create a song that is both cold, singular, but filled with burning passion. While emo can be seen as a young person’s genre, the multiple decades of Kinsella’s career have proved otherwise.