Random acts

We still jump

Who: Jump, Little Children w/The Borrowed Angels & Tinkers Punishment

Where: The Orange Peel

When: Saturday, Feb. 15

Along the wall, near the big club’s coat-check stand and exit, a few dozen people sat and waited patiently for the show to begin.

Many were middle aged, or at least approaching it, and gazed protectively out across the Orange Peel’s gymnasium-looking floor, their patient faces framed by gray-sprinkled hair.

Though they’d all presumably paid the hefty $12 cover to get in, few looked as though they were particularly interested in the music. This haphazard group mostly just talked among themselves, though a few read books to pass the time — hardly typical Jump, Little Children fans, in other words.

The real JLC fans, about 300 roughly high-school-age music patrons, were crammed like packing peanuts in front of the club’s stage. Most of them were girls.

And most of them — at least by the time the opening acts had cleared way for the real show, the one these teens had all cajoled their parents into taking them to on a rainy Saturday night — were screaming.

For a band that’s stayed largely under the radar since being dropped by Atlantic Records just prior to the release of their most recent album, Vertigo (EZ Chief, 2001), the Charleston, S.C-based Jump, Little Children still boast a surprisingly faithful following.

The show opened with a short set by The Borrowed Angels, a side project featuring Jump, Little Children drummer Evan Bivins and bassist Jonathan Gray backing non-JLC-members David Cassady (lead guitar) and Cary Ann Hearst (vocals, guitar).

The second act, Tinkers Punishment, was less exciting musically than the appealing Borrowed Angels, but received a much stronger reaction from the crowd. Perhaps not coincidentally, the band was composed entirely of young men, all playing music like it hurt their very souls to strum the chords. Band members leaned on their amps, teeth gritted in expressions suggesting both childbirth and anesthesia-free dental surgery.

When the lights went down and the opening lines of Blondie’s “One Way or Another” rose up, it signaled that the real show was about to begin. The crowd’s screams, almost deafening by this point, became a massive jet-liner-landing shriek when JLC took the stage. And when the first notes came, all the little children in the crowd did the obvious: They began to jump.

Jump, Little Children is a hard band to dislike. It’s not that their music is so different from most of the upbeat, rootsy alternative pop that was kicking around back in the mid-’90s. Neither are JLC fantastically showy performers who make it worth the price of admission just to watch them play. In fact, the band’s main talent is their sheer enthusiasm. It drenched the crowd in a tidal wave of acoustic bass, accordion, fiddle, drums and guitar.

JLC reached a bit toward the end of the show, delivering excursions in near-Stones-styled hard blues-rock and something close-to-but-not-quite rap. Following some of their more well-known songs, including the slow, haunting “Cathedrals” and the Irish-styled ballad “Dancing Virginia,” the group encored with a post-Valentine’s Day cover of Elvis’ “Can’t Help Falling in Love (With You).”

When the music was over, a massive group of tired teens quietly ambled toward their parents, most of whom had been waiting patiently in their little clique at the front of the club.

It’s likely there were discussions of docked allowances or extra chores to be done as compensation for the parents’ squandered time. Still, a faint twinkle was visible in the occasional middle-aged eye, hidden just behind the reading glasses — a half-forgotten memory of what having your own music means when you’re too young to vote, too young to drink, too young even to get the keys to the family car.

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