To be honest, I’m nowhere near the biggest authority on Jawbreaker. Sure, I’ll absolutely lose my stuff whenever Kiss the Bottle, Boxcar or The Boat Dreams From the Hill come on at a club or anything (guys; there’s an untapped market here, let’s make this happen), but I wouldn’t say I’m enamoured with Schwarzenbach the same way a lot of my friends or bands I’m into are. That being said, when my band’s drummer invited me to see them play their first London show since their reunion in 2017, I took up the offer immediately.
After loading up on beers beforehand (because paying £5.90 for a San Miguel is, let’s face it, bloody extortion) we arrived at the venue in time to catch Beach Slang. While their stage presence was enjoyable and it was obvious they were having an amazing time, their sound is still one I haven’t really gotten into as of late. Regardless, they put on a damn good performance and warmed everyone up nicely for the headliners.
The thing that impressed me most about Jawbreaker wasn’t any sort of stage persona. In contrast, they had this really unpretentious air to them onstage — like they’re more keen to let the songs themselves shine through than the pressure to put on a show or interact with the crowd. That being said, it’s not like they gave no notice to the crowd, with Blake’s trademark snark coming through in certain moments (I remember him calling their appearance at Groezrock the night before a ‘strange experience’), but overall they let their music speak for itself. And speak it did; the band traversed an expertly crafted set with a tightness that only true veterans of the scene could muster, ending with that oh-so-amazing banger that is ‘Kiss the Bottle’ (seriously guys; more clubs need to play this song) that I haplessly sang along to.
What impressed me the most about the gig was the passion that the fans felt for the band and what they represented. Even in the songs I wasn’t entirely familiar with, it seemed like the whole room was cathartically screaming Schwarzenbach’s lyrics back at him. As we left the venue and eventually found ourselves piled into the pub by Kentish Town Station, we found ourselves surrounded by people who were just as passionate as we were; even at this stage, their influence is unprecedented. Jawbreaker aren’t the band that saved my life or anything, but they were that band for a great many people, and a great many bands that took inspiration from their honesty. If they didn’t exist, the music I play or listen to wouldn’t be anywhere near the same. Their influence is unparalleled, and they gave a performance that reflected that.