Glassjaw Remain Unbroken as Ever, and Put on One Hell of a Show

Glassjaw (Credit: Julian Gilbert)

Glassjaw’s diehard fans were cautiously optimistic when the band announced the release of Material Control late last year. On one hand, the legendary New York hardcore group was touring and sounding better than ever since picking up a new rhythm section in 2015, but there was no way of knowing whether vocalist Daryl Palumbo and guitarist Justin Beck would be able to bring the same relentless passion and unforgettable songwriting in their late 30s as they did almost 20 years ago on their first two iconic records.

Thankfully, Material Control still sounds very much like classic Glassjaw. While fans have developed their own opinions on the record over the last seven months, the band is just thankful they finally have a new record out after 15 years of personal and professional ups and downs following 2002’s Worship and Tribute. Crafting the entire record as an “arts and crafts project” without a record label’s interference, the creation of Material Control was a longer journey than even the band had expected. But even after the record’s generally positive reviews, the hardcore veterans had no idea what their actual audience thought of the new material until they began touring with it this month.

“This is really the first series of shows we’re playing since the record dropped,” Beck says. “Not many people are personally emailing us or telling us their opinions on certain things, so we don’t really know how fans are receiving it. It’s kind of a discovery for us, because once you put it out in the world, you kind of fall back into your own zone. You don’t really get the opportunity to get that info. You can read a review here and there, but you don’t know how the public feels about it.”

As their co-headlining tour with Quicksand makes its way across the country, crowds aren’t just getting their first doses of Material Control, but also what likely would’ve been the best New York hardcore show of the late ‘90s. Although fans of either band may not see too many similarities between Walter Schreifels’ group and Glassjaw, it’s a long-awaited chance for Quicksand “psycho fans” Beck and Palumbo to play with some of their heroes.

“Quicksand was like the door opening to psychedelic hardcore for a guy like me,” Palumbo says. “There were bands I already dug because they were heavy and bizarre, but Walter bridged the gap between that and the shoegaze stuff he would do. A band like that opens a lot up to you when you’re young.”

As much as Glassjaw’s been influenced by Quicksand, Palumbo and Beck’s legacy in modern music is undeniable. Aesthetically and musically, the band has become one of the most influential bands of the last 20 years, which helps Material Control feel relevant and current while still remaining true to Glassjaw’s past. The singles, “Shira” and “Golgotha,” easily could’ve shown up on MTV2 a decade ago, while deeper cuts like “Pompeii” and “Closer” sound like songs you’d remember after finding some underground hardcore show in a filthy bar.

As for what fans can expect from the quartet when their tour stops by the Observatory on July 20, Glassjaw’s answer is every bit as good as the raw emotion and unapologetic rock they always bring to the stage.

“We’re going shopping for leather chaps,” Beck says.

“Siegfried and Roy,” Palumbo says simultaneously before both start to laugh.

“Leather chaps, albino tigers, a couple of lasers, and some grimy New York hardcore,” Beck continues though the laughter. “It’s ‘The Greatest Show on Earth,’ like P.T. Barnum.”

“I can’t believe we just said that at the same time,” Palumbo adds. “That’s fucking crazy. The fact that it was the first thing to come out of both of our mouths is very telling of the band.”

Glassjaw, Quicksand and Spotlight perform at The Observatory, 3503 S. Harbor Blvd., Santa Ana, (714) 957-0600, Fri. July 20,  7:30 p.m., $30, all ages.

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