I was born about five years too late.

 

I watched Empire Records in the mid-90s dreaming of working at a record store as a teenager. By the time I reached high school, I had a better chance of seeing the dude that played Warren in a movie[1] than I would seeing a record store that wasn’t going out of business. I moved to Austin in 2006, right as it was transitioning from the post-Slacker nihilistic playground to an overcrowded, construction-filled, transplant Neverland where people who have only lived in the city for a year feel the need to berate you for even thinking about moving into the city. Most importantly, I came of age at a time when important bands were calling it quits. The closest I’d ever come to seeing them live was attempting to play along to their songs on my Epiphone Les Paul that never liked to stay in tune, no matter the age of the strings. That is, until they reunite.

 

I didn’t get into Jawbreaker until high school, nearly a decade after they broke up. If somebody mentioned Blake Schwarzenbach, Jets to Brazil would have come up in my mind first.[2] Even up until now, I’ve felt more of like a casual fan. I love the popular songs, I’d be lying if I told you I knew all the words to any of their songs, my favorite song of theirs[3] only came up on my radar because Piebald covered it. Regardless of all that, I knew they were important, not just to the music scene I love but to everything that I had chosen to define me. Seeing them live was important to get a sense of belonging that seems to grow distant with every student loan bill I pay.

 

I had every intention of seeing Jawbreaker in the moment. I didn’t want to spend time trying to take pictures or video, I just wanted to soak everything in and let this memory remain in my head forever. I wasn’t even planning on writing anything about it either. Normally, when I see a show I intend to write about, I am constantly trying to connect dots and find a pitch. When I saw Jawbreaker Friday night at The Long Center, the emotions punched me like a bag full of bricks.

 

Lemuria and A Giant Dog opened up for them. I love Lemuria and have ever since the first time I saw them play “Pants” at Mess with Texas years ago. Seeing them fumble on a newer song with a backing track was just a reminder of why I love their band so much. A Giant Dog put on an energetic show that, for the first time in years, took me back to the Austin I envisioned living in when I was in high school. You could tell me they’re all characters from another Richard Linklater 70s period piece, and I wouldn’t even question you. They were as fun to watch as they were to listen to.

I headed towards the stage during A Giant Dog’s set, very few people behind me. The Sun was still glaring like a puppy jealous of a newborn baby, wanting to make sure you knew it was still there. As soon as their set ended, I turned around, a sea of Fred Perry shirts and newsy caps engulfed me. For the first time in years, I was at a show surrounded mostly by people that were older than me.

 

Within half an hour, Blake and company took the stage and naturally started off with “Boxcar.” Within seconds, I was dragged to the front by a bunch of Kyle Kinane-looking ass dudes. The crowd consumed me as I shouted their most famous song at the top of my lungs. Watching so many people in their late 30s/early 40s lose all their inhibitions and sway with the crowd with every beat of the song felt as exciting as it felt like somewhere I belonged. It took me back to my first show ever: a 12-year-old kid trying to hold his own with people several years older and loving every single minute of it.

 

A few songs in, the crowd pushed forward. The woman behind me had a plastic cup, of what I can only assume was Dos Equis. The crowd swayed right, then forward again, smashing the plastic cup against my back, beer collectively pouring down my pants. I don’t know how long she had that beer, but it must have not been too long because it felt as uncomfortable as it was chilling. I wanted to make a dash to the back, of the crowd, maybe wipe myself down against the grass the way dogs do after they run out of a bath. I looked behind me; no easy paths and the show had essentially just started. I had a good spot and there was no way I’d get it back if I left now. I looked on stage, then I looked around and everybody was singing along. I made an executive decision to stay. The potential of having beer seep down my butt was a far less worse fate than having to stare at the back of a balding dude’s head while “Fireman” played in the background.

 

The show ended abruptly at about a quarter til 10, more than an hour after they started. Some of us stood around waiting for an encore[4] but once the banner started being lowered, I decided I would make a dash to the parking garage to try and get a head start on heading back to San Antonio. I broke my promise to myself and took a few half-assed pictures with my iPhone, as I much as I wanted to keep the memory of this absorbed in my own mind and my own mind alone, I couldn’t help but be overwhelmed with the emotion that filled the air that night. Watching the older crowd just get lost in the music, throwing their hands around, singing every word of every song, I just wanted to share the feeling I got that night and quite frankly, I wanted to express that despite being born five years too late, this was still quite a time to be alive.

 


[1] For the record, Warren is my favorite character… well him and Mark

[2] And yes, typing that sentence feels both weird and makes me want to roll my eyes at myself

[3] “Bad Scene, Everyone’s Fault”

[4] I really wanted to hear “Bad Scene, Everyone’s Fault”

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