Jawbreaker began their NYC reunion run at Brooklyn Steel (night 1 review, pics, setlist)
There might not be another reunited punk band like Jawbreaker. When they headlined Riot Fest with their first proper show in 21 years (following a small secret seven-song show), they played with a purpose, like they weren't just back to let their fans revel in nostalgia, but to write the ending that their career always deserved. The new Jawbreaker documentary paints them as a band that could've bridged the gap between Green Day and Nirvana, and at their recent reunion shows, they've been performing like the rock stars you have to be to bridge that gap.
On Monday night (2/26), they finally played their first reunion show in frontman Blake Schwarzenbach's current hometown of NYC, their first of three sold-out nights at Brooklyn Steel. Like at Riot Fest, they opened with the fan favorite "Boxcar." "Kind of a climactic way to start things off, isn't it?", Blake deadpanned from the stage. Starting with such a beloved song risks things going all downhill from there, but that's not how things go for Jawbreaker. They stayed on a high, and often got higher, especially during the more ambitious songs like "Jet Black" and "Accident Prone." Despite only playing a few other shows since the '90s, they were impossibly tight, like they had never broken up. They were also so full and so loud. I've seen a handful of shows at Brooklyn Steel since the venue opened last year, and not one band sounded as loud there as Jawbreaker did on Monday night, even with just three members. The rhythm section of Chris Bauermeister and Adam Pfahler is thunderous, and Blake's Les Paul roars through those Marshall stacks. Even when Blake stopped bashing away at power chords to work in some leads, the band still sounded so full.
With the band playing as tight as they played on Monday night, and the crowd bouncing around and singing as much as they were, Jawbreaker appeared like they could be one of the biggest bands in the world. But Jawbreaker's reunion isn't just a success because they're able to kill it in front of huge crowds, there's another purpose too. When they initially broke up, they had just released Dear You, and it would be an understatement to say fans were disappointed in that album. But the album's legend grew over time, and now in 2018 when they play the Dear You songs live, those are some of the most powerful songs of the night. The band play their heart out on those songs, and the audience clearly loves them. At this point, there's not so much divisiveness between Jawbreaker songs. They can play Dear You's "Million" into 24 Hour Revenge Therapy classic "Condition Oakland" into one of their earliest fan faves, "Want," and nearly every person at the sold out show is equally into all three. It feels like the Jawbreaker story is truly getting a proper ending, but here's to hoping it doesn't end too soon. We need a band this powerful to tour as much as they can.
Matching Jawbreaker's gripping songs was some very memorable stage banter from Blake, which is often poetic and often took on the current sad state of political and social affairs. At one point, he apologized for any impact his band may have had on third wave emo ("a terrible, terrible thing"), and wished for a world with "no more Jesse Laceys" (who he referred to as a "Long Island millionaire rapist").
We'll have more pictures of the show (like the two above) coming very soon UPDATE: Pictures from night 1, including openers Emily Flake and Charly Bliss, are in the gallery above. Night 1 setlist and some videos below. Jawbreaker do it again at Brooklyn Steel on Tuesday (2/27) and Wednesday (2/28), and, again, both of those shows are sold out. After those shows, Blake will appear at a live taping of the Going Off Track podcast at Knitting Factory Brooklyn in March and the release party for the 33 1/3 on 24 Hour Revenge Therapy with Tim Kinsella at Brooklyn's Murmrr Theatre in April.
photos by PSquared
Update: A previous version of this post incorrectly stated that this was Jawbreaker's fifth show since reuniting.