Jawbreaker is playing the East Coast or the first time in over 20 years. That’s the Jawbreaker, not the cover band “Jawfaker” or the smugly-named “Jawbreaker Reunion.”
The fact that those two bands even exist are a testament to the fact that absence makes the heart grow fonder. And when you’re pining for a seminal band that played small dirt clubs or fire houses and could poetically capture familiar emotions over crushing melodies, the heart grows fond as fuck.
Jawbreaker was one of those bands that would never get back together. If you saw them at a VFW or open for Nirvana, you were stoked. If you had never seen them, you were going to die without screaming along to “Chesterfield King.” They were your favorite band’s favorite band. They called it quits while they still had potential. And as every band you ever had on cassette reunited in the past six years, you knew Jawbreaker wasn’t going to do it.
But then, it happened. Chicago’s Riot Fest announced they had captured the great white whale — and it was in a swimming pool in their backyard. After a San Francisco shakedown show, Jawbreaker took the massive Riot stage at Douglas Park and killed it. Of the 90,000 or so swooning punks and nerds in attendance, not one of them had a smarmy comment or a bad time. (Seriously, ask the internet.) In 2018, that’s something of a miracle. It was brilliant.
The hub bub was accompanied with a documentary about the band called, Don’t Break Down, which toured itself with the band, even doing some Q&A’s. At one such, frontman Blake Schwarzenbach alluded to a few club shows — and we all went nuts.
Now, Jawbreaker will play Brooklyn Steel on Feb. 26, 27, and 28. Despite being on school nights and all three at the 1,800-capacity venue, they sold out in five minutes. On Monday, Feb. 27, they play with Brooklyn power-pop group Charly Bliss and comedian Emily Flake, on Tuesday, Feb. 28, they welcome comedian Clare O’Kane and an unnamed special guest, and on Wednesday, Feb. 28, it’s comic Kate Willet and another special guest.
Jawbreaker made quite a mark. In 1986, Schwarzenbach, drummer Adam Pfaler, and bassist Chris Bauermeister were all students at New York University when they formed the band. They moved to Los Angeles, where they released their classic Unfun and then San Francisco for Bivouac in 1992. Those records would influence songwriters, bands, and entire genres. Face to Face, Hayley Williams, Foo Fighters, and countless others would cover them. 24 Hour Revenge Therapy was a barn-burner. They got picked up by major label DGC Records for Dear You, which caused quite a controversy in the ‘90s underground music scene. Retrospectively, that sounds so cute, doesn’t it? And then they were done. Something about not getting along…
Schwarzenbach went on to form Jets to Brazil, the Thorns of Life and more recently, the Forgetters. He settled in New York, and if you wanted to see him perform, you could have enrolled at Hunter College and had him as an adjunct professor of your English class… or order a rum and coke from him while he was bartending in Brooklyn. All of this only added to the Jawbreaker mystique, and the fact that you would never get to see Jawbreaker again.
But now you can, if you got tickets. If not, the Russian hackers at StubHub have them for the price of a mortgage payment. Or you can see if there are any tickets left for the March shows in Los Angeles. Because after that, it might really be it for Jawbreaker.