Triumphant return for JKKB

Dan Quinlan of JKKB shows the ladies what he’s got.
Dan Quinlan of JKKB shows the ladies what he’s got.
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“Oral contraceptives” make for great banter between songs.
“Oral contraceptives” make for great banter between songs.
Photo: 

Live music is easy to come by in Kingston—thanks in part to the considerably-sized student population—but it’s difficult to find a band like the Jack Kerouac Knapsack Band.

It’s rare to find a band whose performances feature a welcome combination of excellent music, stellar stage presence, and, of course, frat-boy humour, which was exactly what the Jack Kerouac Knapsack Band provided for the boisterously enthusiastic crowd at Clark Hall Pub on Friday night. While a good deal of the student body uses Fridays to recover from Thursday night debauchery at Ale House, this didn’t stop the crowds from filling Clark Hall Pub. Without the aid of an opening band, the Queen’s-founded quintet shuffled onto stage and effortlessly energized the crowd by opening with a vocally-dynamic cover of Martha & the Vandellas’ “Dancing in the Streets.” For anyone unfamiliar with the JKKB, it was obvious that the band places a youthful sense of humour high on their list of priorities. The JKKB formed at Queen’s in the early days of 2002, then consisting of Colin Pendrith on guitar, Connor Thompson on drums, David Wencer on keys, Jamie Cousin on bass and Daniel Quinlan as vocalist and guitarist. It was not long before the band became one of the best-known acts on campus and in Kingston. This remarkably talented quintet made their return to their alma mater on Thursday and delivered on every expectation the audience may have had. Despite Wencer’s departure and the substitution of new keyboardist Alex Bonebakker, the band remained true to their roots of diverse music and good, old-fashioned, lowbrow humour. The good times continued as Quinlan interspersed songs with jokes, covering such crude topics as “oral contraceptives” in a way that was almost tasteful. The crowd was definitely into the show, as people gravitated towards the stage, whether it was to dance or take photos of the band. While the set list was varied, ranging from covers to more mellow tunes, a large proportion of songs combined the upbeat narrative styles of Blink 182 with the peppy vibe of The Dandy Warhols. It’d be easy to say that this is why the JKKB is so popular, but that assumption would sell short the charisma and excellent chemistry between the band members that blatantly emanates during their performances. That’s not to downplay the great stage presence of Quinlan, Pendrith and Bonebakker, in particular. Quinlan sang his heart out all night long and frequently danced on stage. The band displayed their chemistry through their random exchanges of boy love that would make The Killers proud, and the way that they seamlessly interacted with the crowd—as well as the crowds’ boisterous chants of “Take off your shirt!” Specifically, keyboardist and newest band member Bonebakker proved to be a crowd favourite, acting as the target of many of the crowds’ cheers and of a sign emblazoned with the message, “Bone me, Bonebakker!” When minor technical difficulties surfaced with one of the amps, the quintet quickly worked to remedy the problem whilst Quinlan, Pendrith and Cousin played a brief “interlude” to help the crowd avoid any type of buzz-kill. The amp problem was soon forgotten as the crowd was serenaded with a cover of the Beatles’ “Drive My Car,” as well as a fresh track written by Quinlan describing his experiences when he was working at a slaughterhouse and had a romance with an older woman who worked the bone-saw.

All jokes and frat-boy behaviour aside, the band is serious about two things: putting on a great show and showcasing their strong musical talents. If you ever have a chance to see them play in the near future, I wouldn’t pass it up. Who knows—you just might find solace in the fact that Queen’s produces more than just megalomaniacs vying to get into that ultra-prestigious grad school.

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