Since their reunion a few years ago, Jawbox has been keeping themselves busy with tours, a change in their line up, and a recent Revisionist History EP of a couple of older tracks (“Grip” and “Consolation Prize”) — along with driving version of Wire’s “Lowdown” — that were redone with new guitarist, Brooks Harlan of the brilliant Baltimore-based band War on Women, giving the tracks a weight and sonic punch that sounds fresh and quickly found them on repeat through my headphones.
I hadn’t seen Jawbox since just before the Covid-19 pandemic when they played their first show in over 20 years at the Metro Gallery in Baltimore, blowing the roof off the place, so I was eager to catch them again. And that chance came in abundance at the Black Cat on July 23, when they played an extensive set to a packed house.
One thing that’s always struck me about Jawbox is how much fun they seem to have when they’re performing. As soon as the band hit the stage, J Robbins (guitar/vocals), Kim Coletta (bass), Zach Barocas (drums), and Brooks all threw themselves into the sound, running back and forth to the opener “FF=66” from their self-titled album, and the song had an intensity that set the tone for the evening to follow.
Stream “FF=66” by Jawbox on YouTube:
Jawbox has a way of mixing a powerfully driving sound with a tenderness — often within the same song — that’s hard to find in so many bands today. From the grooving call and response — “Good… Gone” — of “Won’t Come Off” and “Under Glass” to the post-hardcore energy of “Spend Down,” there were no brakes on this band.
After an incredible set, the band returned for an encore of “U-Trau” and a cover of Tori Amos classic “Cornflake Girl.” Topping off an electric set that had the crowd — some seeing the band for the first time and others who hadn’t missed a show in 30 years — calling out for more.
Jawbox has wrapped up their tour with this show at the Black Cat, but they are back at Riot Fest Sept. 18 in Chicago.
The setlist included:
Nickel Nickel Millionaire
Won’t Come Off
Lowdown (Wire cover)
Ones & Zeros
Cornflake Girl (Tori Amos cover)
Here are more photos of Jawbox performing at the Black Cat on July 23, 2022. All photos copyright and courtesy of David LaMason.