Friday, July 26, 2013

Glassjaw - The Echoplex 7/25/2013

Glassjaw is like an aloof cat.  They only come around whenever they feel like it and there’s a 50/50 chance they’ll only make you bleed and then disappear.  I have seen them four times now, and they’re batting a solid .500 with two kick ass shows and two not so kick ass shows.  The first not so kick ass show was in 2003 and can be chalked up to bad timing and general unfortunate circumstances because lead singer Daryl Palumbo was sick and unable to give his full potential.  He suffers from Crohn’s Disease which has caused the band to cancel shows and tours throughout the years and most likely contributed to this show not being amazing.  Plus, I got diarrhea halfway through.  Fucking double cheeseburger. 

The first kick ass show was in 2007 (I think?) when they first got back together.  They lost their minds and everybody fucking loved it.  Five years later, Glassjaw makes another return with new songs.  And they only played new songs.  I was pissed.  Not so kick ass show number two.

And this brings us to last night at the Echoplex in Los Angeles where my girlfriend and I sweated through over an hour of Glassjaw performing kick ass show number two and leveling out their percentages.

My phone takes really shitty pictures, but that’s Daryl probably doing something weird.

We walked into the venue to hear bass blasting the shit out of everybody in the room.  It was like that car you hear once in a while where it sounds like the trunk lid is about to blow off, except you were in the trunk hugging the subwoofer with your ear on the speaker.  Intense.  So my girlfriend dug through her purse and found the earplugs I originally bought for the Every Time I Die concert a few months earlier (if I could go back in time and tell young Josh one concert-related piece of advice, it would be that ear plugs will save your life at a concert).  Popped those bad boys in and headed to the bar.

Somebody was onstage, but I have no idea who.  Their name wasn’t listed on the schedule posted behind the bar or on the website of the venue before the show.  They sounded like they would be pretty good if they weren’t opening up for Glassjaw.  Hip hop was not the kind of shit I felt like jamming on.  I wanted some rock and fucking roll.

But this just goes to support the band’s long history of fucking with their fans.  There was the aforementioned concert that showcased way too much previously unheard music.  And when they first broke up and just put up a picture of Ol’ Dirty Bastard, Notorious BIG, and the Glassjaw symbol on their website to signify that they were dead.  And how they taunted fans with possibilities of a reunion for years before it actually happened.  But you know what?  That’s totally fine.  Who the hell am I or anyone else to tell them how to run their band?  I just gotta be a good little vagrant and accept whatever crumbs of music they bestow upon me whenever they get around to it.  And that’s not facetious.

The first rap group finished and then came Alexander Spit.  No joke, this dude played for ten, fifteen minutes tops.  He showed up, played a couple songs, said he was from LA and that he’d be at the merch table, and then split.  There were probably people that went to the bathroom when he started and found the stage vacant when they returned.  There had to be extenuating circumstances like he got there late or something.  It just didn’t make any sense.

Time passes, we find ourselves next to a table of the loudest, most annoying people at the Echoplex, and the music through the PA stops.  One dude slowly walks out as if checking cables or something and I notice he has drumsticks in his hand.  Hmm, okay.  He eventually sits behind the drum set and waits patiently as a couple more dudes come out and grab the guitar and bass to start tuning them.  Eventually, they finish up and Darly ambles onto the stage causing the crowd to go nuts.

Their setlist was fucking great.  They covered all of their albums (including the two eps since their last proper release) in equal fashion and mixed it up as they went along.  The energy wasn’t quite 2007 but you could tell they were enjoying themselves.  There was only one or two hands-clasped-behind-the-back-jump-in-the-air moves and no jumping arm-windmills, but there were plenty of air-punches to make up for it.  I know that sentence sounds idiotic, but if you’ve followed this band for a while, you know what I’m talking about and it’s a pretty good indicator of how amped Mr. Palumbo felt.

His voice is something that should be studied.  The vocal style he employs with the band is incredibly demanding and he manages to pull it off for the whole set with only a few instances when you could tell his power started to wane.  A new thing he did for this concert was improvisation.  It’s rare that a band will sound exactly like the album while playing live, and it’s these variances that I have always found interesting.  I love live albums.  And Palumbo took it to a new level at this show.  The melodies where sprinkled with new fluctuations, octaves, and general tampering.  The lyrics occasionally seemed to be whatever he felt like worked within the mood of the song at the time.  Entire verses where improvised.  At times, I think he simply stopped saying words during the intense screaming sections (such as at the end of the guitar solo in Jesus Glue).

Beck’s guitar playing was, as always, impeccable.  The new songs feature a lot of keyboards on the recording, but he didn’t have any of them with him this time.  That meant he had to cover the keyboard parts on guitar.  This made for some really interesting versions of the recorded songs and at times, I think, made it better.  He stayed mostly stationary near his amp while doing some weird fluid headnod/pop-locking kind of thing and playing the shit out of his guitar and pedals. 

Basically, they didn’t fuck around.  It took them a couple songs to get warmed up (at first I thought Daryl wasn’t going to scream since he avoided the screaming sections in the first two songs) but once they did, they made the whole room feel lucky to have gotten tickets.  I don’t know when they will poke their heads back out of whatever hole they like to crawl into after a tour, but wherever I happen to be, I will show up and cross my fingers that the aloof cat doesn’t cut my eyes out.

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