Ronen Givony, author of Jawbreaker’s 24 Hour Revenge Therapy, returns for Jawbreaker Week, Day 2 to bring us the most essential Jawbreaker clips the free internet has to offer. Pick up the book and listen along, there’s a lot of good stuff here.
Needless to say, a book like my 33 1/3 volume on 24 Hour Revenge Therapy could have been written before YouTube—but it wouldn’t have been nearly as much fun.
There’s quite a bit of early-, middle-, and late-period Jawbreaker footage for your leisure viewing online: not a comprehensive archive, by any means, but enough to put a serious dent in your productivity if you’re not careful. Now is a good time to acknowledge and thank YouTube users/Samaritans Mark Giese and Decontamination22, who have gone to the considerable trouble of uploading a small library of videos from the band’s earliest shows, in 1989, up to their finale in 1996. (The former’s collection, it must be said, is exceptionally well-organized and indexed.)
The list below is more subjective than encyclopedic, necessarily so. In most of the shows you’ll find linked to, I tried to isolate certain performances, especially as they pertain to the evolution of songs on 24 Hour. But I’ve also included a number of songs from their earlier albums, Unfun and Bivouac—partly because there are so many good pre-24 Hour shows in circulation, and partly because your appreciation of 24 Hour can only grow by knowing the songs that led up to it.
(N.B.: the dates in these YouTube videos aren’t always correct. When possible, I’ve offered the correct dates, or what seem to be, according to a tour history provided by the band.)
The collection below spans from November 1989 to October 1992. Tomorrow, we’ll dip into Jawbreaker’s later-day live career, from May 1993 to 1996; Thursday, we’ll devote to the band’s story from 1996 to the present; and Friday, we’ll wrap things up with highlights from their recent reunion shows this year and last. Enjoy!
“Want,” Downtown Beirut, New York, November 4, 1989. This is the earliest Jawbreaker show to surface. The audio is more than slightly distorted; the camera work is schizophrenic, at best. Blake’s face is still noticeably adolescent. You see stickers for Samiam and Crimpshrine on Blake’s guitar. His vocal is drowned out more or less entirely by the sound of drums and guitar. But the best part commences around 1:40 and again at 2:30, when you see a group of girls happily dancing and singing along.
From the same show, an exceedingly rare appearance by Chris on vocals, on one of the best songs from Bivouac, “Sleep.”
Jawbreaker live on WNYU radio, recorded March 29, 1990.
Live on WFMU radio, June 28, 1990. Pristine audio. Outstanding, breakneck versions of “Seethruskin,” “Tour Song,” “Big,” and “Pack it Up” (The Pretenders).
Volley Club, Tampa, July 9, 1990. For completists only.
“Tour Song,” Reckless Records, Chicago, August 28, 1990, somewhere toward the middle of the “Fuck ’90” tour. Jawbreaker opens with the “Welcome to Our Band” instrumental, followed by “Gutless.” The crowd is miniscule.
Lounge Ax, Chicago, also August 28, 1990. Sub-par audio, but mostly worth it for this early performance of “Big,” with alternate lyrics. Absolutely ridiculous Blake headwear. Chris in dreadlocks and Killdozer shirt.
“Big,” house party, Corpus Christi, Texas, July 22, 1990 (mislabeled 1991). Attendance: 20 (or so) lucky souls. “Gutless” into “Tour Song” to open. The show is briefly interrupted while the hosts assess the parent situation. A recent upload.
“Face Down,” Speedboat Gallery, St. Paul, Minnesota, August 22, 1992. Audio only. Blake sounds terrible, and this song is one of the reasons why. A recent upload.
“Equalized,” McGregor’s, Elmhurst, Illinois, August 23, 1992. Blake sounds monstrous. “Chesterfield King” to open, to a rapturous crowd. Here, Blake invites three kids up to sing “Equalized,” and the crowd organizes itself into a call-and-response during the chorus.
“Like a Secret,” Club Soda, Kalamazoo, Michigan, August 24, 1992 (the following day). For completists (*cough*) only.
“Indictment,” Centre Culturel Oecumenique, Villeurbanne, France, September 13th, 1992. Just days before Blake’s throat surgery, and it sounds like it, although the band storms through this one while a series of audience members injure themselves with ill-timed stage dives. A recent upload.
“Want,” Stortebeker, Hamburg, October 14, 1992. The first (?) show videotaped post-surgery, and Blake sounds terrific. Chris speaks German to the audience. Comically unresponsive audience, until “Want,” which has a slightly altered bridge. The band sounds glorious.