Jawbreaker live review and full set audio by Kayla Greet

Jawbreaker live, November 28, 2017 at The Capitol Theater, Olympia, Wash.

By mild misfortune of being born in 1985, Jawbreaker broke up when I was eleven and still living in rural Maryland listening to TLC, Spice Girls, and No Doubt on cassette. So I don’t have some fairy tale story of discovering Jawbreaker at just the right time in my adolescence. I wasn’t even aware of them until years later when I found punk as a freshman in high school. Well after they’d released a major, lost fans, started hating each other, and became the band least likely to ever play a show again. Post-Jawbreakup.

So what the hell was I doing getting sweaty and hoarse with hundreds of folks singing about the Bay in 2017?

When I started seeing posts online about people attending a Jawbreaker show in Olympia it was already four hours after it had been announced. I was sure it was sold out but I checked just in case. Somehow I was able to buy two tickets and instantly thought I’d been redirected to some scam site. But no, this was a legitimate pair of Jawbreaker tickets that I bought before I even figured out how I’d get to Olympia from Seattle and back on a school night. It felt like being a teenager again for a moment.

My friends Shawn, Erin, and Ryan who also have early morning jobs offered to drive me to Oly after work. This show was on “Giving Tuesday” (the best of the post Black Friday days besides Small Business Saturday) so we were off to a good start. And the same band that is rumored to have received one million dollars for playing Riot Fest was now charging a meager $25 a head and having all the proceeds from this show and silent auctions going straight to the Thurston County Food Bank.

We sorted out that bassist Chris Bauermeister lived in Olympia (duh, Mutoid Men, Shorebirds), and worked for the food bank, and thus summarized that this must be why they were playing the state capitol. Mind you, this is an actual movie theater and not so much a venue. Just a month prior I attended the annual All Freakin’ Night where they show five horror movies from 10 PM to 6 AM and everyone wanders the street like a sleep-deprived zombie afterwards.

Once we let out our yelps of excitement and shook off the anxiousness, the staff at the Capitol crossed our names off a list and gave us a stamp. The show was slated to start at 8 PM so we arrived just after doors opened at 7 PM. But then for some reason, the show didn’t actually start till after 9 PM!

I’d been standing five people from the stage for two hours when finally the one thing between us and Jawbreaker came out. First there was an introduction from the head of the food bank who told a charming story of his niece recognizing Chris at work and how this guy suddenly became the coolest uncle in the world.

Then came Kate Willett, an old friend of the band from SF who did a half hour of stand up comedy. Of course she had to know that 99.5% of the crowd was there for Jawbreaker, and that she was sort of in their shadow for the night. But that didn’t stop her from being really hilarious and hitting the crowd with queer-friendly, feminist, PC humor that I wish Portlandia actually was. I bought her CD afterwards and it’s a lovely homage to Hole’s Live through This, which was oddly fitting since we were in Olympia, and I actually went to school in Olympia. Ha!

jawbreaker live _2_photo_by_kayla_greet
Next was the main course and dessert all rolled into one. The stage barely fit the gigantic JAWBREAKER banner they played in front of. Besides the couple who rushed the stage right before the first note—pushing aside the patient folks who’d been standing up front for two and a half hours—everyone was so nice. Special shout out to the tall dude who invited me to stand in front of him so I could see. I got even closer!

The representative from Capitol Theater came out and said, “I’d now like to introduce you to the ABCs of punk night: Adam, Blake, and Chris.” They took their spots on stage while the crowd clapped and roared. Blake started it off by saying, “This is the site of our very last show as a band, and now our fourth show as a band again. We have all the same songs,” and then launched into “Boxcar.” I really appreciate them getting that tune out of the way first as I’ve seen countless bands play that over the years. Now that I’ve seen the actual band who wrote that song play it, I will walk out on covers of it from here on out.

They frontloaded the set with some more mellow tracks like “Jet Black,” and for the first four songs everyone had their own space to enjoy the show. For a bit I felt like I was the only one in the room and appreciated the tranquility of the crowd. You almost couldn’t hear the stage vocals over hundreds of people singing in unison to their favorite songs.

After “Million” Blake had a bit of show banter. “How’s it going in the balcony? Now that we’re huge, we’ve learned some techniques of show business and how to be inclusive. This one goes out to stage left. And really we love you. You’re all just so beautiful.” The crowd laughed and cheered as they went right into “The Boat Dreams from the Hill” and the scene instantly changed.

jawbreaker live
All of a sudden my arms were pinned to my chest and it felt like everyone there somehow fit into the small space in front of the upholstered theater seats. There were times when I could barely breathe since we were all so compressed. Had I lifted my feet, I felt like I learned to float just like that lyrical vessel marooned on the hill.

I joked that it was as if everyone there had just remembered what band they were there to see. Like, “Oh, that Jawbreaker? Got it.” The folks behind me took a little offense to that comment though they laughed it off lightheartedly.

We got a bunch of tracks from 24 Hour Revenge Therapy mostly, then Dear You ranked next, with a couple from Etc., Bivouac, and Unfun sprinkled in. Having never seen them live, I was a bit surprised that the Jack Kerouac sample was included. Just a month prior, I saw Wolf-Face do a Jawbreaker set at Fest and was pleased to see them include samples as well, so I suppose it’s just par for the course.

Honestly I would have been just as content with them leaving off on “Kiss the Bottle,” but after a few minutes they sauntered back out on stage and hit us with “Jinx Removing” and ended strong on “Bivouac.” They played as if the last twenty-one years never happened. It gave me a sense of euphoria, contentment, and a hard reset button on life. I’d just checked off a box on my pipe dream bucket list with a room full of people who are fiercely passionate not just about music, but about Jawbreaker.

I hear rumor they’re gonna tour next year and I highly recommend including yourself in that experience.

“West Bay Invitational”
“Jet Black”

“The Boat Dreams From the Hill”
“In Sadding Around”
“Condition Oakland”
“Accident Prone”
“Kiss the Bottle”


“Jinx Removing”


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