TVD Live Shots: Jawbreaker, War on Women, and Pohgoh at The Anthem, 3/28

If you had asked me prior to Jawbreaker’s show at The Anthem in Washington, DC last Thursday evening (3/28), I would’ve told you that I didn’t really know how to feel about it.

I’m sentimental, sometimes to a fault. I left Jawbreaker back at the old Black Cat in the ‘90s when everything about the band was perfect. The thought of seeing a band that I cared about so much at a huge, more commercial venue brought out the old punk-ish, snobby attitude in me. I mean come on, the band’s rich history includes all the hallmarks of DIY to their core, so it’s a little weird to see them at Anthem’s 6,000 capacity room—but what the hell, it’s happening all the same.

I really have nothing to bitch about. I am super fortunate that I was able to have seen Jawbreaker play numerous times in the 1990s during the height of their punkdom at clubs like DC Space, Black Cat, and even once at ABC No Rio in New York City. Thursday, I got to see them play DC again after more than twenty years since their last show here, and I’ll certainly take it.

Jawbreaker’s long hiatus was due to a falling out between bandmates Schwarzenbach and Bauermeister which led to a really ugly breakup, including a good old fashioned fist fight between the two during a tour. The dissolution of the band came at the oddest of times for Jawbreaker, just after they had signed to a major label and were earmarked for certain commercial success.

During their extremely long career pause, Jawbreaker never left the hearts of their core fans. Their musical and lyrical style is so unique to their genre, and it’s clear that they have influenced many bands that have followed—acts like Fall Out Boy, Face to Face, and My Chemical Romance to name a few. In 2017 Jawbreaker was announced as the headliner for the final night of Riot Fest in Chicago, and instead of a one-off reunion, Jawbreaker just started playing shows again leading to their current East Coast tour.

The truth is that Thursday’s Anthem show is probably the best that Jawbreaker has ever sounded to me live—an advantage at such a venue. Furthermore, the DC set was a dream for Jawbreaker’s hardcore fans. The band went non stop, song after beloved song, with material that spanned their entire catalog.

All the big ones were covered; “Shield Your Eyes,” “Parabola,” “Condition Oakland,” “Jinx Removing,” “Boxcar,” and “Jet Black,” complete with its Christopher Walken sample from Woody Allen’s Annie Hall. I was happily surprised to hear “Housesitter,” a single off of The Smitten Love Song Compilation circa 1994. The only other single the band shared was “Kiss the Bottle,” the failed romantic anthem which they saved for the last song of the their two song encore—fitting.

The cool thing about Jawbreaker, even more than their sound and poised poetic lyrics, has always been their punk rock attitude. It’s what drives their band, and probably what fucked them up too. Considering that the guys are now in their mid fifties and are back to doing what they do best means that perhaps they’re more punk rock than ever. Whether we’re lucky enough to see them perform at a small club, or if they play at Wembley Stadium for that matter, the right thing to do is to go to the show.

No one really knows what’s next for the California trio. They do have some European tour dates planned in the coming months and there has even been a few hints that suggest that Schwarzenbach has been working on new material for Jawbreaker. I suppose we’ll just have to wait and see.

War on Women from Baltimore and Pohgoh of Tampa, Florida were on the evening’s bill as openers. Both bands seemed perfect for the task and were rather fun to watch. While Pohgoh’s clean pop-punk tones got the crowd started, War on Women’s metal driven, politically fueled songs offered a solid jolt to the gathering crowd.



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