Jawbreaker played House of Blues – 4/23

Venerated emo-punk trailblazers Jawbreaker brought their 25th anniversary tour for 1995’s Dear You (we’ll get to that math in a minute) to Boston’s House of Blues on Saturday with support from The Get Up Kids and Worriers. 

The band whose reunion was once spoken of in such feverish and fantastical tones that an entirely separate band named themselves after it has seemingly settled into a comfortable elder statesman status some years on from that event. After reconvening to headline Riot Fest in 2017, Jawbreaker made the rounds on tour, delivering sold-out shows to rabidly excited crowds and looking to have quite a bit of fun doing it. Their 2019 Boston show (in the same room as Saturday night’s) was a triumphant, can’t-believe-it-happened evening for the books. And while they could’ve wrapped things up with that run and left most everyone satisfied, the band had more to do. Their 1995 opus Dear You – divisive upon release, but since embraced as a cult-classic – turned a milestone birthday during that lost pandemic year, and in 2022, it was finally time to celebrate.

Plenty of Dear You cuts had made it into the band’s reunion sets already, but a full tour in its honor still felt like a well-deserved victory lap. Their first release on a major label, and featuring a moderately more polished sound than its predecessors, Dear You found the band met by disappointed fans and a retrospectively comical chorus of sell-out accusations. The years have undoubtedly been kinder than folks were at the outset. As a listener who came to the Jawbreaker catalog as a completed arc, it’s never sounded anything less than their most ambitious, most cohesive and best record to my ears. And while 24 Hour Revenge Therapy might slightly outrank it in some estimations, I don’t feel like I’m in the minority on that position these days.

The pack of fans screaming along to every word of “Save Your Generation” on Saturday night would certainly back me up. The room was perhaps not quite so packed to the gills as last time, but the faithful definitely showed out to hear the band rip through the majority of the record. Frontman Blake Schwarzenbach mentioned at one point that they were “better” on this go ’round, and I’d tend to think he’s right from a technical perspective. With the addition of an auxiliary guitarist on the songs that called for it, Schwarzenbach, bassist Chris Bauermeister and drummer Adam Pfahler sounded very much zoned into the songs and delivered all with appropriate punch. Staples like “Generation” and the show-closing “Accident Prone” were welcome of course, but it was great to hear Dear You‘s deep cuts broken out as well (“Bad Scene, Everyone’s Fault” has always been a personal fav, and even “Unlisted Track” made it into the encore!)

Jawbreaker eschewed the play-it-in-sequence move of certain album anniversary shows, which felt like the appropriate move in this case. Knowing exactly what’s coming is a bit less fun than the shuffled tracklist, which also left room for some other fan-favorites throughout the night. (In a baller move not unlike The Killers opening their festival sets with “Mr. Brightside,” “Boxcar” led off the night).

Whether or not that hinted-at new material ever surfaces, a tour like this makes one grateful for the Jawbreaker we do have in 2022 – a band still passionate about its now-classic songs, and happy to share them with audiences to whom they clearly mean a whole lot.

Direct support The Get Up Kids were a last-minute addition to the Boston bill, after promised opener The Lemonheads mysteriously and wordlessly dropped from the show in a move not entirely out of character for…let’s say…enigmatic frontman Evan Dando. None in attendance took issue though, giving the midwest emo vets practically as warm a welcome as Jawbreaker themselves. The relative newcomers on the bill – Brooklyn’s Worriers – kicked things off with a set of their catchy and heartfelt tunes that also went over well with the early arrivers. (I myself was not quite early enough to catch comedian Kate Willett, who opened the show).

Check out photos of all three bands below.