Influential emo band Jawbreaker played an intimate, 200-capacity show last night at Ivy Room in Albany, CA, in a warm-up for September’s Sunday night headlining slot at Chicago’s Riot Fest (Sept. 17). Jawbreaker hadn’t played a show together since 1996.
Guitarist/frontman Blake Schwarzenbach, bassist Chris Bauermeister and drummer Adam Pfahler played seven songs, mostly from their masterpiece, 1994’s 24 Hour Revenge Therapy. Schwarzenbach recited John Keats’ “Ode To a Grecian Urn” before ripping into “The Boat Dreams from the Hill.”
Prior to taking the Riot Fest spot, the band had been split on whether or not to reunite. Speaking with Trevor Kelley of Alternative Press, Pfahler said he would reunite “in a heartbeat.”
Schwarzenbach, however, made it seem like a reconciliation was nearly impossible.
“I have said this many times before: I physically don’t feel capable of doing it,” he said. “I don’t think I could sing those songs and I think it would be a disservice to the memory of the band to try to do that. I don’t gloat about being in that position, either. It’s not like, ‘Oh, I get to take the moral high ground.’ In fact, I’m sad about that.”
When the three of them got together in a room to rehearse, though, they found that the spark was still there.
Speaking Los Angeles’ Robot 2 gallery in April, Pfahler told a crowd, “We played a couple of songs just to see if we could still do it. We weren’t sure if we could still do it. We could still do it.”
He added, “We were testing the waters, [like,] ‘Can we hang out together? Could it be cool? Could it sound good?’ … A couple of years back it got real close, but there was a bigger band, they were waiting on an answer to headline one of the festivals. And then sure enough they did it, they took their slot, and it relegated us to the following year. And the timing wasn’t right the following year.”
Timing, good band chemistry, and, apparently, offers of “crazy, crazy money” was enough to put the threesome in front of a crowd again.
Next week on August 11, a documentary called Don’t Break Down: A Film About Jawbreaker, will premier at the Alamo Drafthouse in San Francisco. The film was directed by Tim Irwin and Keith Schieron, who also made the Minutemen doc We Jam Econo, from 2005.
Watch a trailer for Don’t Break Down and videos from last night’s Jawbreaker show at Ivy Room:
Don’t Break Down trailer:
Jawbreaker @ Ivy Room:
“The Boat Dreams From The Hill”
“West Bay Invitational”
“Save Your Generation”