There are points in your life when one wants to experience a rock show that is a spectacle unto itself, with pyrotechnics and laser light shows that dazzle the inside of your cranial cavity. Haute cuisine, if you will.
Then there are times when all you really want is a show chock-full of aural goodness that rocks your bones and gets the adrenaline flowing. All killer, no filler as the saying goes.
Friday night at the Rumba Café fell squarely into the latter category. Having rescheduled her show after a significant snowstorm forced a postponement, Jasmine Cain and her free-wheeling, rock and roll gypsy soul rolled into Columbus with a trailer full of high-octane energy.
Comprised of Jasmine Cain (vocals/bass), Jordan Roepke (guitar) and Zach Ballard (drums), this was ostensibly the band’s first solo gig in Columbus.
Seth Canan & The Carriers opened the festivities, with The Typical Johnsons following. Solid sets from both bands had the crowd properly primed for a heavy dose of straight forward rock and roll.
“I am Jamine fucking Cain! Are you ready to rock?” she announced from the stage before launching into the uptempo driving beat of Coming in Hot. The band amped-up the song from the original, with Cain vocal range showcased rather nicely.
Without missing a beat, they transitioned directly into the hard-hitting White Noise. Unlike the album version, they slowed the final bridge of the tune down appreciably, building anticipation for the climax.
The fast-paced and autobiographical 1995 assaulted us next, much more rocked-out that what was recorded for “White Noise.” The song had an early 1980’s Fastway vibe to it, as Cain got the crowd clapping along with the beat. As the band brought the tune to a quiet stop, Cain said, “If you like whisky, make some noise!” At which point, the trio continued the chorus to its natural conclusion.
Cain prefaced the next song with “Here’s a song about my ability to fuck everything up,” as they dove right into the uptempo Good Life. Ballard was channeling his inner Booby Blotzer on the kit, with his arms flailing high into the air before pounding his drums.
Fans of the television show “Sons of Anarchy” immediately recognized the notes that followed Cain saying, “This is about how to live your life and love your life,” as the almost melancholy sound of Roepke’s guitar wafted through the venue. In the live setting, the song had a more poignant feel, with Roepke letting loose with short flourishes that stabbed Cain’s vocals with an exclamation point.
The mid-tempo pace of Break Even had the assembled fans feeling the pain in Cain’s lyrics, her vocals delivered like a dagger to the heart. The emotion she showed while singing “If this is where it’s ending, let’s get it over with…” showcased a softer, more vulnerable side to Cain that was beautiful, while still hard-hitting.
Roepke coaxed a delta swamp rock vibe from his guitar, while Ballard tattooed his hi-hat in-sync and Cain’s plaintive wail opened Whiskey Kiss. They brought the tempo up, hitting the wall-to-wall crowd in front of them with an in-your-face, slightly southern rock vibe.
The slower, chugging groove of Never Goodbye reverberated from the stage as a follow-up, pairing nicely with the previous tune. While not a power ballad, the band gave the song much darker overtones on this night when compared to the album version.
They transitioned right into Nightingale, with Ballard calling forth a jungle beat on the drums. Both Cain and Roepke carried a heavy metal tone with their axes, rivaling Korn in their heyday. Somehow, the trio managed to make the tune feel much darker than the studio version, with Cain’s vocals having an almost righteously evil feel to them.
Cain’s vocals had an almost dirge-like quality, full of emotion, that paired well with the slow groove of her bass on Nightmare, with understated guitar fills from Roepke to accompany her. The pair built the intensity before Ballard kicked into a higher gear with the drum beat as they transitioned right into Hole. The crowd responded appreciatively to the pairing of these two songs.
Cain went acapella, as she sang a toast to the sea of fans in front of her. The crowd, of course, loved every second of it.
They brought the tempo back up with a rocking version of Fool’s Gold, with Cain’s vocals moving from heavy to softer with a nonchalant ease. Once again, the emotion in her voice shined brightly.
The heavy riffs and thumping bass of Untouchable, a song they’ve only played twice in the past year, brought the crowd to an almost fever pitch with its driving beat. The band was tight, a direct result of playing almost 150 shows per year.
At this point, Roepke opened the next tune with a delta blues vibe, his slide adding verve to the sounds emanating from his guitar, as they played Help Me. While the song was on her first album (The Inside, 2004), the version that wormed its way into our synapses Friday evening was the more poignant one from “Modern Day Gypsy” (2012), Roepke and Ballard with an almost dirty groove to close out the number.
The band’s tour manager, Kevin BeBout strapped on Cain’s bass as she told the crowd that this was “a song about false prophets,” with the foursome launching into a hard and heavy version of Any Given Sunday. With BeBout thumping away on the bass, Roepke jumped in and out with some very tasty guitar fills.
Cain looked slyly at the crowd as she said, “this is for all you crazy bastards!” with Ballard letting loose on his kit with an almost five-minute drum solo. I was waiting for someone in the crowd to yell “More cowbell!” as he tattooed a crescendo across his drums.
When Ballard finished, much to the crowd’s delight, Cain, Roepke and BeBout rejoined him on the stage the fast-paced Run Away, hitting the audience like a punch delivered to the solar plexus. While the song was short, sweet and too-the-point, it reminded us of why we love rock and roll.
As the band walked off stage, the crowd began chanting “one more song” over and over until they came back onstage, eliciting a roar from their fans.
They concluded their set with a high-energy cover of Rage Against the Machine’s Killing in the Name. While staying somewhat true to the original, Cain put her own stamp on the song with her high-powered vocals. And once again, the crowd roared their approval.
If you love your rock and roll to hit you hard, with no superfluous frills, a Jasmin Cain show is just what the doctor ordered. She, along with Roepke and Ballard, put on a hell of good show.
After experiencing it just one time, it’s almost a guarantee that you’ll be back for more. Yes, she’s really that good. The only thing that puzzles me is why she hasn’t garnered more recognition on a national level. That’s an error that needs to be rectified… soon.
Credit all images: Jen Gore @jgflutterby
- Coming in Hot
- White Noise
- Good Life
- Highway Prophet
- Break Even
- Whiskey Kiss
- Never Goodbye
- Nightmare/Hole mashup
- Raise Your Glass (acapella)
- Fool’s Gold
- Help Me (Modern Day Gypsy version)
- Any Given Sunday
- Drum Solo
- Run Away
- Killing in the Name (Rage Against the Machine cover)
Jasmine Cain – 1995