With all this talk on Radiohead, The Strokes, Arcade Fire, and whatever buzz band orbiting around the blogosphere; it pains me to see a certain band completely changing the game of the music business get ignored.
If you’re unfamiliar, the loosely categorized post-hardcore group has been influencing bands you probably hate since 1993. A large majority of the emo-core and scream-o genre can be blamed on Glassjaw’s erratic and organized chaos of a record, 2000’s Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Silence. At this point the band was hard to pin down and classify. The band even more so shook up the post hardcore genre when 2002’s Worship and Tribute was released on Warner Records. Mixing elements of jazz, punk, avant-garde, noise rock, and a dash of afrobeat made the album compared to Refused’s multi-genre fuckfest, The Shape of Punk to Come. But after being betrayed by their record labels and misinterpreted on tours (Ozzfest?), Glassjaw went to hiatus; only to return to tour with several new tunes to tease fans. Only until recently were diehard fans (at an almost cult-like following) rewarded for their undying allegiance with several 7” singles that would only play with a special ‘insert’, one EP showing their more aggressive side, and another free EP (given away on their current tour) showing a side of Glassjaw that both surprised and was welcomed by fans. All followed by an extensive tour that ends with an encore featuring nearly every song off their most recent EP. Did I mention this was all organized and executed by the band themselves? No record label and no outside promotion. And they nearly sold out the Regency Ballroom; a 2,325 capacity venue. How is that not admirable?
Opening for the Jaw were the dense and dark post rockers Tidal Arms and fuzzed up progressive rock band, These People. Both bands were less ‘hardcore’ and more influenced by the likes of Dismemberment Plan, Fugazi, and Drive Like Jehu. The walls of guitar effects and tense, heated vocals provide the band’s driving aggression, but they soften the blows with bouts of dark melody. Both acts pleased fans of bands such as At the Drive In, Unwound, and of course Glassjaw, but specifically Tidal Arms weighed in as heavier, noisier, and, in places, more tormented and beautiful than These People. With enough twists in its movements to ward off any signs of predictability, both These People and Tidal Arms served as impressive rock collages that were welcomed by the sea of anxious GJ fans.
After dropping their now famously green Puerto Rican flag, Glassjaw took the stage opening with one of their heavier tunes, You Think You’re (John Fucking Lennon) from the Our Color Green Singles. The most active member of the band was of course lead vocalist Daryl Palumbo, as guitarist Justin Beck and bassist Manuel Carrero stood nearly motionless in the distance throughout the entire set. That wasn’t much of an issue though. Daryl is a very theatrical performer and alone made the show very entertaining.
The band dipped into a slew of older tunes like Tip Your Bartender, Mu Empire, Ape Dos Mil, Pink Roses, and The Gillette Calvalcade of Sports. It was quite obvious that a second guitar player was missing with these songs, especially with Pink Roses and Mu Empire. Since the departure of guitarist Todd Weinstock, the band has been forced to compensate with older songs. While the songs are noticeably affected, this did not upset the audience that night and the spirit of these tracks were not lost.
More songs from their most recent Our Color Green Singles like Stars, Jesus Glue, and Natural Born Farmer were ferociously carried out. For whatever reason, the song All Good Junkies Go to Heaven seemed a bit toned down from the recorded version. While still a fast paced and fierce display of Glassjaw’s instrumental abilities, I felt as though it didn’t match the intensity I associated with the song.
One of the most surprising aspects of the show was the appearance of b-sides El Mark and Convectuoso. The songs sparked very enthusiastic sing-a-longs from a clearly excited crowd. The band closed their set with Siberian Kiss, an explosive track from 2000’s Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Silence. While the crowd went bananas, it seemed as though Daryl was dialing it in as he did even seem to be singing the correct lyrics at times (it actually sounded more like indecipherable gibberish).
After a hesitant call for encore from the crowd (at times no one was clapping or yelling), the band took the stage to finish off with an encore entirely consisting of songs from their latest EP, Coloring Book. This is a more experimental and ambient side of Glassjaw only heard in songs like Ape Dos Mil and Must’ve Run All Day. But that is a loose comparison as these songs are a clear evolution of style for the band and they are clearly excited about sharing them with their devoted fans.
What is normally a mysterious and ominous entity, Glassjaw has emerged as an admirable force in the modern music environment. Self sustaining and artistically aware of their abilities, the band once again shakes the ground with influence. Only time will tell if anyone has taken notice.
(You Think You’re) John Fucking Lennon
Tip Your Bartender
Ape Dos Mil
The Gillette Calvalcade of Sports
Natural Born Farmer
All Good Junkies Go to Heaven
Two Tabs of Mescaline
Vanilla Poltergeist Snake
Miracles In Inches
Stations of the New Cross