Kangaroo Court brings psych-punk rock to CU

Photo courtesy of Hayley Anderson

Kangaroo Court opens for Post Animal at the Canopy Club on November 12. The band are currently working on an album which should be released early next year.

By Sydney Wood, Buzz Associate Editor

As the Champaign-Urbana music scene continues to recover from the pandemic, one of its new garage-punk bands is taking the community by storm.

Formed in late September, Kangaroo Court has already made an impact on the community, recently opening Post Animal at the Canopy Club in mid-November.

Jake Luce – founder, vocalist and guitarist of Kangaroo Court – described the band’s sound as a mix of heavy psych-rock and high-energy garage punk. He said the band were also inspired by slow bedroom melodies and their subtle bass drops were inspired by dubstep.

Luce said the band embodied a garage band vibe, with stripped-down sounds and gritty surf rock-inspired guitar tones that brim with overdrive distortion. And its sound is inspired by artists like Black Sabbath, Tame Impala, The Strokes and King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard.

Kangaroo Court consists of Luce, guitarist Garrett Frank, drummer Cody Spiezil and bassist Noah Tennison. The band began playing gigs in early October.

Luce said the group formed organically, clicking right away. He mentioned that they had a natural chemistry, saying, “I just feel like I’ve known these guys way longer than I have.”

All members are current or former students of the University.

“Each of us also brings something different musically,” Luce said. “It’s like with our personalities. We each kind of bring what we need, so it worked really well.

Kangaroo Court has rehearsals about three or four times a week. At concerts, they almost exclusively play original songs — there are about eight, so far — plus a cover of The White Stripes’ “Fell In Love With a Girl.”

“I think everyone kind of wants to get hit in the face with live music post-pandemic,” Luce said. “So that’s what we aim to do.”

Luce said he hopes the band’s music will make people want to start over and listen to it again and again.

“If I can get people hooked on the sound and keep it in their head, that’s enough,” he said.

The band played a handful of house shows, usually at Urbana. Luce said Kangaroo Court has played with bands like Soft and Dumb, Ocean Child and Decapitation In The Food Court, saying, “We really love playing with all of them and love being part of the scene in general.”

“It was just awesome,” he said. “I think people are really looking forward to getting back to live music now after the pandemic and everything. So it just seems like there’s a huge crowd of people at every show who are just super willing to start a mosh pit dance.

Kangaroo Court is in the process of recording their first single, which will soon be released on all streaming platforms. Luce said the group currently has an album in the works, and he hopes it will be released in February.

Although the band have only been together for a few months, Luce said their stage presence is second to none and that Kangaroo Court brings a strong punk-rock energy to the community that Champaign-Urbana currently lacks.

“We just get everyone in the crowd moving around our sets,” he said. “Everyone in the band is having fun playing that, so I think people really feel that when they watch us.”

In 10 years, Luce hopes Kangaroo Court will still be active. He said his dream festivals to play would be Desert Daze in Perris, California or any show at Red Rocks Amphitheater in Morrison, Colorado.

“Hopefully we can still play shows and go on tour and things like that,” Luce said. “I think everyone in the band has every intention of sticking with it and really putting everything we have into this project and seeing where it can take us.”

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Diana J. Carleton