Glassjaw Performs for the Hardcore Fans of San Diego

Observatory North Park

For 23 years, Glassjaw has been one of the defining bands of the New York post-hardcore scene. Without Daryl Palumbo, Justin Beck, and the numerous temporary members to come in and out of the band, the East Coast emo and punk scenes of the 2000s might’ve never gotten off the ground, and today’s music industry would likely look vastly different (who would be going on reunion and anniversary tours every month if not those bands?).

But as of recently, the quartet is generally resigned to a featured opening role on major tours or a late-afternoon slot in the festival rotation. With 30-minute sets seeming to be about  average for the group, the opportunity for an evening headlined by Glassjaw just seemed too good to pass up for many of their fans, including the ones who drove from OC (or farther) to see the show at the Observatory’s venue in San Diego.

Beginning close to an hour before the doors opened at 7 p.m. on Thursday evening, a short line of Glassjaw diehards waited outside of the concert hall. Guys and gals (many wearing the band’s signature shirts) between the ages of 15 and 45 would file into the venue for the next three hours, filling the wide-open aging playhouse with enough black clothing and Glassjaw monograms to last a Warped Tour.

Of the two openers, LA-based Silver Snakes were definitely worth checking out, but the night really belonged to Glassjaw. As the band began its performance right at their 9:30 scheduled time with a heavy dose of Worship and Tribute in “Tip Your Bartender,” “Mu Empire,” and “Pink Roses” before taking a second to catch their breath and launching into one of the biggest tracks of the night with “Ape Dos Mil.”

Without missing a beat, Palumbo’s unmistakable voice brought two more classics (“The Gillette Cavalcade of Sports” and “Two Tabs of Mescaline”) sandwiched around “Jesus Glue” (which is from 2006 or 2011, depending on how you look at it). Through the first 35 minutes of their set, Glassjaw had the crowd captivated and feeling like it was 2002 all over again.

Then things got a little weird.

Although there’s nothing wrong with playing some new material in a show, Glassjaw’s next five tracks all debuted within the last handful of months. “New White Extremity” got enough attention in December for many of the band’s fans to at least know the chorus, but songs like “Shira,” “Neo,” “Metal,” and “Post Apocalyptic” turned even the most dedicated screaming Glassjaw fans into casual head-bobbers for the last portion of the primary set. It also became apparent that an hour of Glassjaw-level intensity is a lot to handle for many fans, as the post-hardcore legends really only have one speed, and they push it as hard as possible for the duration of the set.

Without saying a word (as seems to be the norm for Glassjaw, not a single word was uttered between, before, or after songs other than a pair of snarky old comedic recordings), the band briefly left the stage before returning for an encore.

Perhaps I simply couldn’t place it, but even the most Glassjaw-loving corners of my brain didn’t register the first song of the encore (the band’s setlist appeared to say “Abigadoz,” but that’s far from a certainty). To close out the set (and get the crowd moshing, screaming, and enthralled once again) Palumbo and his adoring fans belted out the only track of the night from Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Silence as “Siberian Kiss” echoed through the venue.

Tip Your Bartender
Mu Empire
Pink Roses
Ape Dos Mil
The Gillette Cavalcade of Sports
Jesus Glue
Two Tabs of Mescaline
New White Extremity
Post Apocalyptic
??? (Abigadoz)
Siberian Kiss

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