Kassi Luja

The smell of coffee beans, the sounds of instruments coming into tune and the din of a crowd filled the place. The atmosphere inside the European-style cafe was unlike I had ever seen it.

Glasses clinked, and people chattered around every inch of the heavily decorated coffee shop, scrambling to find seats in the vintage leather chairs — though many found comfort standing on the stair steps or sitting on the floor.

I wove through the sea of people and came upon the spot where I would stand for the next three hours. From here, I had a perfect view of the manmade stage, cluttered with musical instruments: a gray Samsonite suitcase to be used as a kick drum and a little red toy piano.

“It’s like a Rolling Stones concert,” a woman in the crowd said. “You have to get here four hours before to get in the front row.”

The cafe was jam-packed with fans, friends and family members awaiting the final show for local folk-alternative band History of Painters.

The band announced its last show through a Facebook event, which gave the following reasons for the disbanding:

“Recently members of the band have had new and exciting opportunities present themselves (getting into desired colleges, career pursuits, etc), and since everyone is starting to go there own way in life we will be closing this chapter of History of Painters indefinitely.”

History of Painters’ final show came two and a half years after the band’s first show at Kreuzberg, CA’s former location on Dec. 4, 2010.

The red toy piano onstage had stuck with History of Painters since this first show. In fact, the instrument wasn’t the only thing that carried through to the end: Hooper told the audience this past Friday that he decided to wear the same blue-and-green-checkered flannel he wore at the debut.

Though History of Painters has only been playing together for two and a half years, you wouldn’t know it.

This past April, I sat down for an interview with Josh Cody, 25, and Justin Hooper, 25, from History of Painters for a feature I was writing on the band. They’re two of the nicest guys you’ll ever meet, to say the least.

That same day was the first time I heard them play live. The band performed at Boo Boo Records for Record Store Day. After listening to History of Painters’ music and watching the band perform, I knew it had a great future ahead.

So when Cody and Hooper told me this past April they were trying to put together a show at Kreuzberg, I certainly didn’t think it would be their last.

History of Painters opened the final show with an instrumental song, followed by songs from the band’s full-length “The World Is Greener” and EP “Only What the Spring Can Bring.” The band also played a couple of covers including U2’s 1987 single “Where the Streets Have No Name.”

The impassioned set enveloped the audience, especially in History of Painters’ toned-down performance of “Green Hills.” As a whole, the band’s final show was powerful both musically and emotionally. Cody choked up throughout the set, flashing smiles while trying to hold back tears. This didn’t detract from the band’s overall performance, though.

The emotion radiated through the room, as did the band’s contagious energy.

Just before what was thought to be the band’s last song of the night, Cody and Hooper turned and gave each other a hug. But this “last” number turned into a few more, as Cody held up two fingers before the final two songs, smiled and said, “Two more songs.”

After two and a half hours of playing, the show came to a close.

The crowd applauded and whistled as one by one, audience members stood up, showering History of Painters with a standing ovation. The clapping continued as band members gave a final bow.

Cody and Hooper are two of the most incredibly talented and down-to-earth people I’ve met, and it’s great to see their fans’ love reciprocated.

Many attendees stayed after the show, as a counter displayed gray and black History of Painters T-shirts, the band’s two releases and a book for guests to leave messages for the band.

It’s safe to call the band a local favorite. It’s hard to believe I heard about History of Painters just two months ago. I’ve loved watching these guys play in that short time, and they certainly offered a fitting end at their final show.

Click here to read Kassi Luja’s feature story on History of Painters.

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