Jawbreaker, A Giant Dog, Lemuria
An entire legal drinking age worth of time passed between the 1996 breakup of Jawbreaker and their headlining 2017 reunion at Chicago’s Riot Fest. The superlatively influential melodic punk band, from S.F. by way of L.A. with a 1986 NYC foundation, perpetually ranked among the most desired reunions after the trio essentially disbanded in sidewalk fisticuffs while touring 1995 swan song Dear You. On that very tour, they played for 500 on the outside stage at the old Emo’s.
Upon their return, they’ve upgraded to the 7,000-capacity open-air Skyline Theater Downtown at the Long Center.
Drummer Adam Pfahler and bassist/vocalist Chris Bauermeister, led on vocals and guitar by Blake Schwarzenbach, released just four studio LPs, with the posthumous Etc. compiling unreleased and non-album tracks in 2002. Each album showed a marked progression in songwriting, beginning with the gruff, Eighties emo-tinged Unfun (1990), released during their short-lived L.A. residency. The Bivouac (1992) era included Schwarzenbach undergoing throat surgery, Steve Albini engineered crowd favorite 24 Hour Revenge Therapy (1994), and Dear You brought with it misguided accusations of selling out for its cleaner studio sound.
After the split, the three scattered to the winds. Schwarzenbach’s Jets to Brazil (1997-2003) ranks among the most notable of his Brooklyn endeavors, the one full-length and double 7-inch from Forgetters and the blink-and-miss-it Thorns of Life notwithstanding. Bauermeister joined the ranks of Chicago’s Horace Pinker until 2001, then relocated to Olympia, Wash., where he continues to play in a variety of DIY punk bands. Pfahler still resides in the Bay Area, running a video store out of the Alamo Drafthouse’s New Mission theatre.– Greg Stitt