Researching Joan of Arc in anticipation for their show at The Firebird was somewhat akin to a genealogy exercise, beginning with Cap’n Jazz, the Midwest emo band that split up in the late 90’s, leading to the handful of its offshoot bands after its demise. I was familiar with a few of them (The Promise Ring, Owen, American Football), not even knowing their ties back to Cap’n Jazz until now, but Joan of Arc was one offshoot that I was unfamiliar with. If you’re brave, you can try and read the band’s history. Or you can have these cliff notes: Joan of Arc’s core remains Tim Kinsella, but around him was built an ever-rotating cast that somehow managed to create twelve studio albums to date.
The crowd seemed thin leading up to their set, but it grew modestly by the time Kinsella and his crew took the stage. This being my first exposure to Joan of Arc, I can’t speak much about the songs (although here’s the set list), but as a new listener I found their music to be much more approachable than expected. Having read about the tumultuous changes to the band’s style over its albums, I think I expected something weirder or abrasive, but the set felt much more straightforward featuring guitar work that took me back to the Jade Tree era. After a few songs, Kinsella shared a story about the last Joan of Arc show in St. Louis essentially being an empty show only attended by a now-ex girlfriend’s family. Hopefully, the smiles and applause from the eager crowd left him with a better impression of St. Louis this time