Smile Politely

Rose Bowl Tavern hosts a stellar return for Kangaroo Court and friends

A band performing on stage under the tent. The guitarist with long hair is singing into the microphone, the bassist is playing their instrument, the drummer is behind the drum set, and the other guitarist is playing energetically. The "ROSE BOWL" sign is clearly visible in the background. The audience in the foreground is watching the performance, creating an intimate concert setting.
Kangaroo Court; Photo by Ty Noel

With spring in full swing and the white tent back in the parking lot of Rose Bowl Tavern, it was only fitting that Kangaroo Court made a return to Urbana on a beautiful Saturday night. The drinks were flowing as servers wound their way from table to table, talking with a crowd that was still enjoying the last bit of sunshine before the show began. By the time the first band took the stage, nearly every table was filled along with several other people standing and waiting for things to begin. 

It didn’t take long for Edging — the first band of the evening — to get their gear ready and take the stage. As it is with most opening acts, the crowd started off by trying to stay seated, but after a little goading from the band people slowly filed in under the tent. This punk quintet from Chicago put on a high-energy performance, with their music reminiscent of the artist Cheap Perfume. Between the shirtless drummer and the rare saxophone in a punk band, it wasn’t hard to bring more of the audience under the tent and closer to the stage. As the dancing started to match the energy Edging was putting out, the lead singer hopped down from the stage to sing and dance along with everyone else. The band mixed in both old songs and new while also addressing their name with a few well-placed sex jokes. Although Edging seemed like they could go all night long (no pun intended), after about half an hour the band played one last song and headed off for the evening. 

A punk band performing on stage. The band members are wearing red and white baseball t-shirts and shorts, with feather boas decorating the microphone stands. The female bassist/vocalist is singing into the microphone, another guitarist is playing, and the drummer is in the background. The stage setup includes various instruments and amplifiers, with the "ROSE BOWL" sign in the background.
Knee Hi’s; Photo by Ty Noel

After a small break, the Knee-Hi’s took little time getting things prepared — including a bit of decoration for the mics — and soon launched into their set. Much like Edging, the Knee-Hi’s are another punk band based in Chicago but are a four-piece set. This female-fronted group felt as though they were inspired by Joan Jett and had a similar sound to The Regrettes. Same as before, the Knee-Hi’s asked for people to come closer to the stage and bring them some energy or it’d be a “boring show.” After the first song and the crowd coming in ready to party, the band exclaimed “You brought the energy!” which set the tone for the rest of their set.

At this point in the evening the sun had set, and more people found a way to leave their seats and get to dancing near the stage. The Knee-Hi’s kept a fast pace, only bantering between a few songs and all but ensuring the crowd stayed rowdy and ready to mosh. With the tent nearly full, one of the members hopped down into the audience, both playing and dancing along with everyone. Despite their impressive individual library, the band covered “Bad Reputation” by Joan Jett and another by The Ramones. However, the favorite of the night was an original called “What a Way To Die” where the band all fell to the stage at the end of the song. 

Once the Knee Hi’s ended, the last group to take the stage was Kangaroo Court. The band had spent most of the evening watching the show and joining in with the dancing audience, making sure to support the acts that came back to Urbana with them from Chicago. Despite this, when they finally took the stage, the punk quartet kept the energy and high-quality show that their fans had come to expect. Once they started playing there were only a few people left in their seats, as everyone else filed under the tent to watch them play, including both openers as well. 

A band performing on stage under a tent with the "ROSE BOWL" sign in the background. The band consists of four members: a guitarist with long hair, a bassist, a drummer, and another guitarist. The musicians are actively engaged with their instruments, and the audience is visible in the foreground enjoying the performance. The lighting creates a vibrant atmosphere for the event.
Kangaroo Court; Photo by Ty Noel

The band wasted no time diving into their songs, letting the audience know that much of what they were hearing was off their debut album This is Kangaroo Court. A fan favorite and the second song of the night “Something’s Gotta Give” was played, bringing the audience into a frenzy and moshing and dancing along. Just like many of their performances from before, Kangaroo Court put on a fantastic set, perfectly using their music to energize the crowd before dialing it back to provide much-needed breaks. The bit of engagement was great as always, between sharing their love for playing in Champaign-Urbana to providing a gentle reminder they had merch. There was even a promise that despite only having two sizes left in shirts, those sizes could “grow or shrink depending on just what you need.” Despite the new album, Kangaroo Court threw a bit of nostalgia into the evening as well by playing a few of their old songs. They welcomed Siobhan, who was filling in on bass, while also ensuring that the drummer Cody had a great 22nd birthday.

After three hours of high-energy music, the show came to an end. Despite this, many people stuck around and chatted with the bands and let them know the great performance they put on. With it taking place outside, all three acts were able to draw the attention of people walking by and had several stop to just take in the music for a song or two before moving on. With the beautiful weather, the excellent service from Rose Bowl Tavern staff, and the tight performances from each act, the final verdict on this Kangaroo Court show review is a gavel-smashing success. 

A punk band from Image 1 performing on stage under a tent. The members include a guitarist, vocalist, drummer, saxophonist, and bassist. The vocalist is energetically singing into the microphone, the guitarist and bassist are playing their instruments, and the saxophonist is passionately playing the saxophone. The "ROSE BOWL" sign is visible in the background.
Edging; Photo by Ty Noel
A punk band performing on stage under a tent. The band consists of five members: a guitarist in a striped shirt and shorts, a vocalist in a white t-shirt and shorts, a drummer shirtless behind the drums, a saxophonist with long hair in a jumpsuit, and a bassist in a tank top and shorts. The backdrop reads "ROSE BOWL" with "URBANA, ILLINOIS" underneath. The stage is set with various instruments and equipment.
Edging; Photo by Ty Noel
A punk band performing on stage under a tent with the sign "ROSE BOWL" in the background. The band consists of four members: a guitarist in a red and white baseball t-shirt, a female bassist/vocalist in a matching outfit with feather boas on her microphone stand, another female guitarist with similar attire, and a drummer in the background. The audience is visible in the foreground, watching the performance.
Knee Hi’s; Photo by Ty Noel

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