Sunday, Jan 30
Review by Dave Lake
Wish as he might, fans simply can't erase the memory of Blake Schwarzenbach's>"/>
Review by Dave Lake
Wish as he might, fans simply can't erase the memory of Blake Schwarzenbach's former bands. There was Jawbreaker, the seminal '90s pop-punk band he fronted that put his gravelly voiced songs (and--whether he likes it or not--emo) on the map. His indie-rock foray, Jets to Brazil, arrived in the late '90s, followed, nearly 10 years later, by Thorns of Life, a band that left no recorded output, only a single recording session that has yet to see the light of day.
So it was with bated breath that, after seven years, Schwarzenbach's fans finally had some new material to dive into, this time from Forgetters, a back-to-basics punk trio, featuring original Against Me! drummer Kevin Mahon and Caroline Paquita from Bitchin' on bass. Their self-titled, four-song double seven-inch was released in September, and with it a wash of nostalgia. And there's no way around it, Forgetters sound way more like Jawbreaker than any of Schwarzenbach's other bands. They're also a trio, don't have vocal harmonies, and their debut recording sounds as muddy as the early Jawbreaker stuff.
Their show Sunday night at the Vera Project--which has been celebrating its 10th birthday all month long--was crowded with aging punks who grew up on Jawbreaker and who were anxious to see what Schwarzenbach's latest band was all about. Though it can be tough to hear a nearly hour-long set of songs you aren't familiar with, Forgetters did their best to overcome this, putting on an energetic show, bantering with the crowd between songs, and segueing from up-tempo punk tracks to darker material like some of the moodier fare on Jawbreaker's Dear You album. Strangely, the band didn't include all four songs from their double seven-inch in their set--the only material showgoers might know. They opened things with "Vampire Lessons," and later, "Too Small to Fail," but the other two songs from their debut EP were M.I.A.
Despite the band's energy, the crowd was quiet between songs--a by-product perhaps of an all-ages, alcohol-free venue--which Schwarzenbach said was making him paranoid. "There's nothing more annoying than drunk people who talk too much," he said, about one of the benefits of the all-ages space. "I should know: I'm a bartender." He then admitted he'd also taken to smoking pot again, which could explain his confessed paranoia--and also his eerie resemblance to Bob Dylan, complete with a full head of curls that the audience chattered about as the band took the stage.
After 11 sweaty songs and no encore, Forgetters' first show in Seattle was a memory. And so too, the first decade of the Vera Project, leaving fans hopeful and happy as they poured out into the frigid Seattle night, chatting excitedly about the show, which they'll probably be telling their friends about in a few years, just like they wax nostalgic now about the very first time they saw Jawbreaker.
What Forgetters didn't play: Anything by Jawbreaker, Jets to Brazil, or Thorns of Life. No covers either.
Overhead from the stage: "Just because there's a woman at the merch table doesn't mean that's all she does," said Forgetters' bass player Caroline Paquita, before commending the bill for having a woman in every band.