New York punk legends Jawbreaker made a highly anticipated visit to Houston, their first in nearly 25 years.
Most of the buzz and hype over the weekend was rightfully concerned with the Pride Festival on Saturday night, but the main room over at White Oak Music Hall still found itself brimming with excited fans of all kinds, most of whom had likely been waiting on word of a Houston show being announced ever since the long absent band reunited two years ago.
Escorting them through their stint in Texas was Bully, the heavy handed indie-grunge project founded and led by Minnesota native, Alicia Bognanno. The two acts made for one of the most must see shows of the summer that brought entire generations of heavy rock enthusiasts together in common reverence.
It was truly an all ages event. From tatted punks well into their forties to indie-heads in their early twenties, and even some kids being chaperoned by parents sitting in the balcony area, you could quite literally see how broad the draw for this show was. Patches, band tees, studded vests and bright colored hair were in all abundance, and there was a clear spillover from the Pride Fest. Ex-scenesters, hip couples, and just plain ol’ regular people who know good music were also well represented. Shirt of the night belonged to an older gentleman, who had a nice big “Good Night Alt-Right” slogan down his back, complete with a fist smashing a swastika.
With the amount of tenure Jawbreaker has as one of the all time genre standouts, a sense of prestige could never go unappreciated, and that’s exactly what the main stage inside WOMH is able to lend itself to without compromising the energy and intimacy that make these kinds of shows a blast. Equipped with a prolific and well-programmed lighting rig and more than enough space for a giant backdrop with their classic name/logo on it, the stage setup just felt like the most perfect place in town for the return of such a beloved band. Of course, there’s nothing like a good ol’ sweaty house show, but lets face it, too many people wanted to see this band for that to work and this was the next best thing.
- Too Tough
- I Remember
- Feels the Same
- Kills to Be Resistant
- Save Your Generation
- The Boat Dreams From the Hill
- West Bay Invitational
- Sea Foam Green
- Sluttering (May 4th)
- Condition Oakland
- Jet Black
- Jinx Removing
- Accident Prone
- Kiss the Bottle
Singer-guitarist Alicia Bognanno isn’t much for standing on ceremony. Without a word, she led her band onto the stage sporting her signature unkempt bleached blonde hair, and just like that, Bully was opening up the night with a set heavily lauded with tracks from their 2015 debut album, Feels Like. Despite being a relatively young band and Jawbreaker being the belle of the ball, Bully did more than hold their own. They bring in a layered, grunge heavy sound that frequently borrows elements of pop-punk and hardcore, and is tied together by Bognanno’s distinct vocals that often find her screaming into the mic with her eyes closed. Bully truly stated their case to a crowd that for the most part likely hadn’t had the pleasure of discovering them yet.
While Bully certainly set the right tone, Jawbreaker brought on the energy. When it came time, the stage darkened and the perfectly ominous music from the Baseball Furies chase scene in The Warriors movie started up, and once the drums kicked in, out came Blake Schwarzenbach, Adam Pfahler, and Chris Bauermeister to roaring fanfare. When the intro closed, they got right into it with Save Your Generation, and the crowd met them almost at equal volume at every lyric. This was the narrative of the entire set, everywhere you looked was a crowdsurfing punk or a Jawbreaker fan singing their heart out. Biggest crowd pop of the night came for Kiss the Bottle, the last song of the set.
At some point early on, Schwarzenbach paused to address the crowd with a reminder. “Happy Pride,” he said amidst cheers. “As you celebrate and congratulate your self on your tolerance, and you watch Chase Bank and all the others trot out there with rainbow flags, don’t forget those guys all support anti-marriage legislation and all that bullshit. It’s just a fucking money train. Support your local leather cowboy!”
There was no attending this show without recognition for how special it was, not only because of the significance of this band, but because of the way such a large and diverse group of people were able to come together in shared passion to create a shared memory worth keeping forever. Even the various and potent smells, including weed, a little bit of B.O. and a hint of the reluctantly familiar grade-school scent of a stink bomb couldn’t take away from it. For better or for worse, all there was were details in the incredible night when Jawbreaker returned to Houston.
The Score: ♥♥♥♥