Glassjaw’s July 20th performance at the El Rey Theatre marks the height of a newly minted era as the band performs tracks from Material Control, their first new album in 15 years. While the band had continued to occasionally release tracks in between albums, the advent of a new complete work has been a welcome shock to the hardcore music world. Without regard to the short time between release and tour, dedicated fans in the packed audience had no problem screaming the lyrics to tracks from both their new and old material.
The show opened with Hesitation Wounds whose sound captures the essence of American hardcore and punk with heavy guitar riffs and guttural screams interlaced with smooth vocals. The second opener, JPEGMAFIA approached the audience with a sense of intimacy by joining the crowds mosh pit repeatedly during the performance. His scream filled raps over strange beats caught the ears among the crowd, often before his direct physical presence or flinging sweat did.
I admit I had never heard of Glassjaw before attending this concert. In fact, I went last minute to cover for another DJ. Once there, I shuffled amongst the twenty to thirty-somethings that filled the crowd, taking care to avoid the mosh pit but also be close enough to see its inner workings while getting a feel for the band’s tone. I knew to expect hardcore but the two opening acts threw me off to Glassjaw’s comparatively relaxed sounds. These sounds create a melancholic vibe that is both soothing and somewhat stark to the listener. The hard guitar riffs paired with lead singer Daryl’s smooth coos make for a signature sound that finds its home between emo and hardcore.
The band opened with a new song from their album “Cut n Run” which captures the sounds of the band throughout its expansive career. While songs like "The Gillette Cavalcade of Sports" captured tones from the band’s height. Overall, Daryl did not talk to the crowd much perhaps showing some apprehension in presenting new material for the first time.
Despite this, the audience glowed under the bright lights of Glass Jaw’s set. As people sang and moshed along you could tell there was a mutual gratitude from band to fans and vice versa. Fans left with the renewed sense that one of their favorite bands was back with a vengeance and much musical ground still left to cover. Feeling all of this, I left the concert with my own appreciation for Glassjaw and a 25 year’s worth of a band’s history to look into.
-- T.L. Carroll