Caravels hasn’t left town, and its summer tour has already run afoul of the law. “We got pulled over on the way here for not having plates on our van,” bassist Cory Van Cleef explains, as the Vegas five-piece sets up Saturday at Yayo Taco.
The band does have a temporary permit to operate the beige-colored vehicle—nicknamed “The Cruel Mistress” and recently spray-painted with lightning bolts—but that slip of paper isn’t visible, making it unlikely today’s will be the sole traffic stop along a two-week trek that will take Caravels from Tijuana, Mexico, to Seattle and back home. “We’ve done a few days on the road before, but I wouldn’t call them tours,” drummer George Foskaris says. “Apart from paying for gas, we’re really looking forward to it.”
Roughly 100 fans have dropped by the 18-and-over “venue”—a comfortable eatery with an impressive beer list and tasty Southwestern grub, set in a chunk of the converted Goodwill building in the university district (4632 S. Maryland Parkway)—to see Caravels off; to support opening acts The Fucking Party, The Soviet & The Onset and She Turned Us Into Trees; and to pick up copies of Caravels’ latest disc, Hunt Things. Van Cleef, Foskaris, guitarists Dillon Shines and Matt Frantom and singer Mike R. have self-released the five-song EP in a limited batch of 250, and their zealous supporters happily pony up $5 apiece for hand-numbered copies. “It’s got 23 minutes of music on it … Weezer’s ‘Green Album’ has less than 30 minutes and that’s [priced as] an LP, so ours is a pretty good deal,” Foskaris says.
The first two acts are plagued by all-but-inaudible vocal conditions, but their energy pulls them through. She Turned Us Into Trees corrects the sound issue, and its hardcore pop meets with the approval of the crowd, much of which piles atop the band as it winds down its short but memorably loud and raucous set.
Ultimately, though, this night belongs to Caravels. The fivesome’s mathy hardcore is built on dynamic changes, and those low-to-high moments come across well in the makeshift setting, as do Mike R.’s shouted lyrics, even when his audience flips him into the air during one intense interval.
Frantom’s guitar strap snaps, relegating him to a chair, and Mike R.’s vocal chords are, in his words, “shredded,” but the band makes it through all five songs off Hunt Things. The last, “Primera Sangre”—a song constructed so perfectly, it makes you wonder if these guys are really 18- and 19-year-olds—arrives as an unplanned encore after insistent shouts for “First Blood,” its former title on MySpace. Caravels also debuts a new tune and plays longtime staple “And They Say Algebra Is Useless,” which Mike R. reveals is being retired. Don’t believe it, says Foskaris. “He probably just wants to set up an epic comeback for the song,” the drummer explains. “You’ll probably hear it again when we get back from tour.”