“Gene Simmons is a terrible person, but he’s one hell of a rock star,” joked James Synder of Beach Slang, who opened for Jawbreaker last Saturday at Astra Kulurhaus.
Synder probably had more than a few drinks before getting on stage. But it was a special occasion for him: he was opening for the band that inspired him to play music. Letting his real rock ’n’ roll soul shine, he swapped his bright red drink for a bottle of water, leaned back to toss some in his mouth and strummed into their second song while simultaneously spurting a misty fountain of liquid up into the air.
The four-piece’s performance really rocked. Although, at just before nine on a Saturday, it was a bit difficult to get the place all warm and bubbly. He made a great effort, however, at filling the awkward silences between songs with self-deprecating jokes —cracking up a few of us by noting his likeness to Jack White. I had the good fortune of making friends with a die-hard fan before the show. He saw to it that we wouldn’t get thirsty in the middle of Jawbreaker’s set.
Feeling loose and happy-go-lucky, I headbanged through a solid hour of awesome, loud, and epically nostalgic punk rock anthems. Favorites like “Chemistry” and “Jet Black” had me grinning eye to eye. I could see the older gentlemen with long white hair next to me was just as happy. Closing my eyes and letting the thundering bass guitar shake my frame, I imagined what a Jawbreaker show must have been like in 1993, the year they opened for Nirvana (and the year I was born).
Unsurprisingly, the crowd was very German. Although, I have no doubt everyone had a great time. Unaccustomed to the chilled German vibe, however, singer Blake Schwarzenbach made some fun to fill the space between songs, too. “Well, you guys are a lot better than Hamburg,” he reassured us, to many laughs.
It was pure bliss losing myself to tunes that I grew up on. I was thrilled to see the band play so well, considering their 17 year hiatus. Swarzchenbach’s was voice nearly as raspy as the on record.
Some lucky fans got “Jawbreaker” guitar picks thrown out to them at the end of an energised encore –and a few went home with a copy of the setlist: