When Welsh band Los Campesinos! took the stage at the El Rey Theatre in Hollywood at the end of August, they unwittingly started a philanthropic fire that has since spread up the West Coast. That night, Los Campesinos! offered to donate all of the proceeds from their show to the Jensens, a Nampa family recently devastated by a fatal car crash. A few nights later, a similar benefit took place in Portland, Ore., featuring the bands YACHT, Au and May Ling. Shortly thereafter, there was yet another Jensen benefit show in Nampa, again including the band Au in addition to Boise's The Very Most. Now, on Thursday, Sept. 16, the Neurolux will take up the benefit reins when Boise icons Built to Spill play an intimate show to help crash-survivor Elijah Jensen.
On Aug. 2, while traveling home from a family reunion, four members of the Jensen family--father Jens, mother Kris and two of the Jensen children, sons Noah and Elijah--were involved in a car wreck, which killed Kris and seriously injured Elijah and Jens. After hearing the news, music community members from Boise to Portland immediately stepped forth to offer support. Since three of the five Jensen kids are active in bands--Elijah's bands are With Child and Unicorn Feather; Jeremy fronts The Very Most and sister Rachael is in Portland's Parenthetical Girls--they've managed to inspire a lot of musicians with whom they've crossed paths over the years.
"The loss of Kris Jensen, his mom, is heartbreaking for a lot of people who maybe didn't even know the family so well because I would see her at all of her kids' shows. She wasn't a smoker or drinker and she was religious, but she would always be sitting at Neurolux--this smoky, cloudy bar watching either The Very Most or watching Elijah in Unicorn Feather or With Child play," remembers family friend and Built to Spill benefit organizer Eli Craven. "Elijah would do house shows for touring bands, and any time any touring band or any friend of theirs needed a place to stay, his mom would put them up."
After the initial shock of the accident subsided, many close to the Jensens realized the family could use some serious financial help. The cost of Life Flight, facial reconstructive surgeries and hospital stays--combined with the fact that Jens and Elijah are unable to work during their recovery process--has left the family scrambling to pay bills.
"The bills have been pretty astronomical. You could buy a nice house on the Bench for Elijah's bill, for example," says Jeremy. "With all the benefits that have happened ... there are people who may not have to declare bankruptcy now."
But benefit concerts aren't the only way the music community is helping out the Jensen family. Zac Pennington, who plays in Parenthetical Girls with Rachael, recently helped organize the Kris Jensen Memorial Auction, which featured items from record labels Kill Rockstars, Audio Dregs, Marriage Records and States Rights, along with rare test pressings of albums from K Records' collection. According to Jeremy, the auction raised several thousand dollars for the family.
"Everyone's just been so great to my family, I just can't believe it. It's been extremely helpful," he said. "Obviously there's the financial side of it, but then just the fact that so many people are contributing their talents and especially in these bad economic times, their hard-earned money, to help my family. It means the world to us."
Music fans, too, have something to gain from the upcoming benefit show at Neurolux. Besides being the most intimate show Built to Spill is slated to play on their upcoming fall tour, Boise audiences will also likely get a chance to hear songs off the band's new album There is No Enemy before its official release on Tuesday, Oct. 6. Though Built to Spill has continued to play Boise venues like Visual Arts Collective, Knitting Factory and Hyde Park Street Fair as their fame has escalated, it's been a number of years since the full band has jammed by the glow of Neurolux's iconic crown.
"I think people are really excited to see Built to Spill at Neurolux because it's been a long time since the band has played there," said Craven. "Built to Spill hasn't been together as a band in that bar for a really long time."
But even without a headliner like Built to Spill, Craven is confident that the Elijah Jensen benefit at Neurolux would be a packed affair.
"Everybody in Boise loves Built to Spill and everybody loves Doug [Martsch] ... but I feel like the [Jensen] family themselves are big enough in the community, and Elijah is well-known enough in the community, that no matter who you'd have play, people would come around and support the Jensens."
Thursday, Sept. 17, with Disco Doom and The Very Most, $15 adv., $17 door. Neurolux, 111 N. 11th Street, 208-343-0886, neurolux.com.*Editor's Note: The online version of this article reflects a correction in the number of members in the Jensen family.