When the crowd lurched forward for the opening notes of “Boxcar,” you knew it was finally real: Jawbreaker’s third show in 21 years and its first at anything remotely resembling the main stage of a behemoth like Riot Fest.
Sunday night (Sept. 17), the Chicago crowd got all it could have wanted from the storied, coulda-shoulda-been-as-big-as-Green Day cult punks. After two tiny warmup gigs last month (and some shaky solo shows from frontman Blake Schwarzenbach in recent years) Jawbreaker thrived as a powerful live unit -- back, and with purpose.
The 15-song set was interjected with warm-hearted asides from Schwarzenbach, long seen as a literate fellow, now waxing poetic from a hulking festival stage instead of a dingy club. He decried “corporate sexism,” “corporate racism” and “capitalist shit” and nodded to the crowd in solidarity: “We have to fight our way out.” He wore a shirt featuring the words “Gaza on My Mind” in both English and Arabic. Bassist Chris Bauermeister dressed in all red, including a T-shirt emblazoned with a common Anti-Fascist logo. Onstage, they were surrounded by enough VIPs, members of other bands and lucky fans to fill one of their early ‘90s club shows. And for this sizable contingent, Jawbreaker brought along an entire of tent of its own brand new merchandise.