Jawbox played their first NYC show in 20+ years (pics, videos, setlist, review)
Jawbox warmed up for their reunion with a show in Baltimore, then their proper tour began in Cambridge, and then the DC post-hardcore greats finally played their first NYC show since the ’90s at Brooklyn Steel last night (6/22). J Robbins, Bill Barbot, Kim Coletta, and Zach Barocas took the stage shortly after 9 PM, said a brief hello, and then dove right into a set of classics that made it seem like no time had passed in the 20+ years they were away. J and Bill made a few mentions throughout the night of how long it’s been, and they seemed genuinely grateful that this many people still wanted to see them after all these years (the 1,800 capacity room was sold out). They’re just a few shows into the reunion tour, but they already seemed like any kinks were worked out and any rust was polished off. I was too young to have seen Jawbox back in the day, but they looked and sounded as tight and energetic and happy to be there as they seem in classic live videos. It was everything you’d want from a Jawbox show: the shouts were as passionate as they were in the ’90s, the melodic choruses soared through the large room, the dissonant guitar workouts were as razor-sharp as you remember, and Kim and Zach held down the pounding rhythm section with all the power and precision you’d expect.
They packed over 20 songs into their hour-and-a-half set, and — as they’ve been doing on this tour — pulled most heavily from their last two albums (1994’s For Your Own Special Sweetheart and the 1996 self-titled LP), with classics like “FF=66,” “Jackpot Plus!,” “Mirrorful,” “Cooling Card,” “Motorist,” “Iodine,” their cover of Tori Amos’ “Cornflake Girl,” and their biggest hit “Savory,” which closed the pre-encore set and was, of course, a huge crowd pleaser. “Savory” is the song that even casual alternative rock fans know, but it didn’t overshadow the rest of the set the way an unusually popular song often can. Every song Jawbox played was a ripper, and it really seemed like the crowd was full of diehards who had stuck by the band all the years they were away.
Part of the reason that Jawbox were still so tight, and probably part of the reason that their music was able to live on and continue to connect with younger fans, is that the members of Jawbox stayed active with many other projects in the years since Jawbox first called it quits. Though this tour was nostalgic for both the band and their fans, J Robbins used the opportunity to promote new Jawbox-related projects too. J released his debut solo album a few weeks ago, and Bill’s band Foxhall Stacks (which also features Brian Baker of Minor Threat/Dag Nasty/Bad Religion, Peter Moffett of Government Issue, and Jim Spellman of Velocity Girl) released their new 7″ last week, and both were available at Jawbox’s merch table. And if you haven’t heard them, both are very good. When asked by Rolling Stone earlier this year, Kim said that the band had “bits and pieces” of new music, and she mentioned that she couldn’t see herself doing too much more touring without new material, “’cause I want it to be relevant and not just feel reunion-y.” Still no concrete word on new music, but going by the power and chemistry that Jawbox displayed at Brooklyn Steel, and the still-great songwriting chops present on J’s solo album and the Foxhall Stacks 7″, I’d wager that new Jawbox music would sound pretty great. Here’s hoping!
Jawbox’s tour continues with two hometown DC shows this coming weekend, and upcoming openers for the tour include Shudder To Think’s Craig Wedren, No Knife, The Velvet Teen, Motion City Soundtrack’s Justin Courtney Pierre, The Life and Times, Helms Alee, and more. Jawbox also play The Fest in Gainesville this fall (with Jawbreaker, Dag Nasty, Against Me!, a solo J Robbins set, and more). See their full tour schedule here.
The Brooklyn Steel show was opened by J Robbins collaborators LAPêCHE, who are fronted by singer/songwriter Krista Holly Diem and feature members of Small Brown Bike and Strikeforce Diablo. (Jawbox drummer Zach Barocas and LAPêCHE drummer Jeff Gensterblum were wearing matching shirts with each other’s names on them.)
Some pictures are in the gallery above and more coming very soon UPDATE: Check out lots of pictures from Saturday night’s show in the gallery above. Videos and a pic of the setlist below.
photos by P Squared