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Review: Glassjaw Letting Egos Get In The Way Of A Great Live Show

Glassjaw is a musical enigma. They always have been. Since they tore their way into the musical mind frame back in 2000, Glassjaw’s history has been a rollercoaster of rabid fans, indifferent crowds, enthralling musical transformations, as well as keeping the band relevant into its member’s 30’s. While Glassjaw went into hibernation for the better part of the later 00’s they’ve finally dusted the ferocious beast, and are now recording and touring again. At their recent show in San Antonio, the chimera of identities that Glassjaw is, was on full display, and questionably, is the ego worth the effort?

Opening with the crushing “You think you’re John (fucking) Lennon” and following directly into crowd favorite “Tip your Bartender”, the violent orgy of sound was a full on love fest to personal tragedy, with the crowd singing louder than front man Daryl Palumbo could register. As his fists flew into the air, exercising the demons from within vocally, the crowd met him with equal adoration.

But what was missing from the set was the presence of their debut album “Everything You Ever Wanted To Know About Silence”, aside from the ubiquitous anthem “Siberian Kiss” the set was absent of other tracks that surely would have sent the crowd into hypoglycemic fits. This is where the enigma of the band resides. Glassjaw has always thought of themselves better than they truly are.

For as much as people utterly adore and love them, they understand seeing them live will be engaging, to say the least.

Over the years when asked why they continually neglect the songs from that era of the band, the typical answer is “Dude, we wrote those songs when we were, like 18. We hate them.” That answer isn’t worth any weight. Paul McCartney wrote “Yesterday” over 40 years ago, and still plays it, and he’s all smiles. Radiohead loathes, detests their first record, but occasionally, they’re known to break out a few tracks from it within their live shows. Considering Sir Paul and Radiohead’s catalog is bigger than Glassjaw’s, and infinity more popular, this shouldn’t be a comparison of artistic ego.

People want to hear a variety of the new Glassjaw ideas, which in their own merit are staggering, beautiful compositions, but they also want to hear the rage of the band who was so intense live, it was crippling. Those songs are off “EYEWTKAS” and most fans will agree.

The crowd was hot like a smoking pistol. It was ready to kill at Glassjaw’s command. The attitude was there as well as the sonic appreciation for every note strummed on the signature distorted bass, or dissonant guitar. The backlighting allowed the music to transform itself; it swayed and crossed like a boxer on the ropes, creating the ideal scene in a little club in a questionable part of town in lower Texas. The White Rabbit should thank their lucky stars that the rafters didn’t collapse at the bridge of “Ape Dos Mil”, the intensity of the chants from the capacity crowd sounded more like a pep rally than a concert.

The music of Glassjaw has been a cornerstone to some of our lives. We, being the hardcore kids who aren’t 18 anymore feel like we’ve taken a ride with them, we’ve grown with them. As they realized they’re not as angry as they did years ago, we did too. While a lot of people hung up the camo shorts and basketball jerseys and became bona fide adults, others let their love of being a hardcore kid be a crucial factor in the roles they’ve played in their lives. I’m not 18 anymore. I’ll be 30 in 5 months, and the seething anger of songs like “Babe” or “Pretty Lush” still makes me pound the steering wheel of my car, or want to throw my computer through my window, even though I need to it to get all of my writing done.

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4 Legacy Comments

  • Comment by Adam posted February 28, 2011 at 17:08

    As much as I agree about still appreciating a good EYEWTKAS listen, I don’t think it’s so much massaging their egos as it is embracing the ability to be a free artist. As much as I’d love to see “Motel of the White Locust” and “Lovebites & Razorlines” in every Glassjaw set, it’s their right to play or not play it, and to structure their sets around what they want to play and when they want to play it. They’ve never been a band to compromise their direction for other people, which seems to often enough be construed as an inflated ego, but the truth is it’s their music, and they’re going to do with it what they’d like.

  • Comment by Patrick posted March 01, 2011 at 18:28

    Bands and musicians do not continue to make music unless they feel as if what they currently doing is better than what they have done before. If you followed the band as closely as you put on then I am sure you have heard in interviews over the years that the band isn’t exactly comfortable playing those songs. They have all matured as both humans and musicians and I have even read in recent interviews that Daryl is “not as mad as I was then”. Those are angry songs. Those lyrics are very harsh and exactly what he was feeling the moment they were written and recorded. But those may not be his feelings his now. To go out and just recite those songs instead of truly performing them would be unfair to the audience.

    Many people have been reviewing these shows on this tour have all had the same complaints. Why didn’t you play something off your first full length. All the while ignoring that the band pulled out a super old song, “El Mark”. Did you even bother notice that they came out and played an entire ep that isn’t even out yet? Sure you can get it at a show (for FREE), but unless you hound the internet for all things glassjaw, you might have never known.

    Of course Paul McCartney and Radiohead play old songs. Those bands also play for damn near three hours. I’m sure if they wanted to play for three hours they would and you would still find something to be bummed about. I get that. I grew up in hardcore. I grew up playing and touring in hardcore bands. The only consistent truth with hardcore kids of any age is that no matter what, we are never happy.

    Glassjaw could totally jump the recent fad of touring and only playing their first album. Thursday just did it. I keep hearing rumors that Unbroken might be doing one. But when have they ever done anything that was expected of them? When have they ever made an attempt to fit in? Isn’t that what drew you to the band in the first place?

  • Comment by Rob Urich posted March 08, 2011 at 04:55

    When a band reaches Glassjaw’s level, the people who’ve supported them their entire career should most definitely be considered. Michael Jackson’s moves weren’t nearly that of the 80′s, but cash flow aside, it’s hard to imagine someone who is at his popularity level across the world and isn’t giving him or herself to this love labor much like Jesus on the cross. There are times in any popular artists careers where the music becomes a force, of which the nature are the fans. At the same time, a lot of change undergoes within the heavy underground music scene. For being in a “metalcore” band for 4 years, in the scene about 10 years, and with many friends in the same boat, it is hard to play aggressive tunes when you’re not a pissed off teen anymore. My channels have switched, and more power to you if you’re 25+ plus and still feeling it. I sometimes wish I could be like that. For everyone everywhere, being genuine, being real, and having an ego are 3 separate things.

  • Comment by bonafide gustla posted October 31, 2012 at 22:41

    This was a pretty cool review except its title makes it seem like its going to be all negative, dude! I too agree that EYEWTKAS is great, but you cannot compare Paul McCartney’s old tunes with their’s since Sir Paul is being paid some serious cash to do so. Glassjaw is free to do as they please and I am sure at this point in his life, Daryl may feel a little silly screaming “you fucking whore!”.