The Long Island hardcore band, Glassjaw, played at the El Rey Theatre last night. The band played mostly new, officially unreleased songs, and at the end of the show, everybody received a Glassjaw EP, called Coloring Book, gratis.
I was positioned very close to the stage, chest-to-back, elbow-to-elbow with mostly males in their upper 20s to 30s. Most of them drinking beer and smoking marijuana cigarettes. There was considerable excitement in the crowd. Three young girls moved in next to me, and the smell of alcohol flowed heavily from their mouths. They must have barely been eighteen years old. And they were horny.
“I’m Danielle,” the girl closest to me said. She grabbed my waist and my neck with her other hands. She put her lips to my ear. “I’m standing next to you, and I’m going to get crazy, just so you know.”
Have a good time, I said. Are you excited to see Glassjaw?
“I’ve never seen them before, because I was too young.” Her eyes set themselves on one of my eyes, then the other, and then my mouth, and back. “I was just a babe when they used to play a lot. Then they stopped doing shows and disappeared. I’m so excited to see Daryl.”
I had seen Glassjaw a number of times when I used to live in North Dakota. A friend and I would drive to Minneapolis, Minnesota to see Glassjaw at the Quest Club (which is no longer there). Glassjaw did kind of disappear after 2003, making sparse appearances. They played only a couple of shows in 2005. They have yet to release a full-length album after 2002’s Worship and Tribute. Danielle must have been beside herself for those years. Tonight, her dream was coming true.
“I would, if I could, send my vagina through the air,” she said, waving her hands above the heads of two beer-drinking young men standing in front of us, “and let it land right on Daryl’s face.” The guys turned to see who was saying these provocative things. Her friends yipped in agreement, and they all waved their fingers in the air, which by this time had come to represent ethereally floating vaginas flapping their labia until they could alight on Glassjaw’s singer’s face. Daryl Palumbo, his name is, and I’m sure he gets that kind of primal female talk often. I enjoyed the images and sentiments of these young girls, but I questioned the cleanliness of their feminine organs. I’m sure Daryl does the same.
Large red curtains shielded the stage from the audience, and somebody from behind the curtains said into a microphone, “Check, check!” The girls erupted in gasps and shrill screams. “Is that Daryl?” they asked each other. Daryl, Daryl, Daryl. Glassjaw. Glassjaw. Glassjaw.
When the curtains opened, the crowd rushed forward and everybody holding a glass of beer spilled it onto the back of the person in front of them. The exclamations and shrieks of happiness from the three girls beside me were quickly snuffed out as they struggled to stay standing in the surging crowd. Their tiny arms pushed and struck out at the bodies around them, trying to keep their bodies upright and balanced.
Glassjaw opened with “You Think You’re (John Fucking Lennon)” – a song that begins with a screaming tirade over a flowing rhythmic section. When the particularly memorable and melodic chorus bloomed out of the harshness of maniacal screaming, the entire crowd took up the melody and sang along.
I have never seen that kind of audience participation with any other live band. Glassjaw fans can always be counted on to sing as loudly as Daryl, and while that can be irritating, Daryl plays with it in a musical way. Often, throughout the performance, he would let the audience finish the line of a verse or chorus, and he would take advantage by singing a pitch or two lower that seemed to harmonize the audience’s gratuitous participation.
Glassjaw moved into “Tip Your Bartender”, the first song from Worship and Tribute, and then seamlessly drifted into the second song from that album, “Mu Empire”. The band paused after the third song and people were shouting the names of their favorite songs, hoping Daryl was taking requests. A guy behind me kept shouting, “Tip your bartender! Tip your bartender!” His girl turned and looked at him, and he said, “What? It’s a song.” Did he want them to play it again? Did he not realize the band just played it? In two minutes, this guy would be involved in a scuffle with another short Hispanic dude wearing a flat-brimmed Oakland A’s hat.
The fight broke out when somebody pushed somebody else and the “Tip your Bartender” dude got upset with the Oakland A’s dude and somebody threw a punch. A slender Hispanic girl stood between the two boys and kept them from punching each other. All of this distracted me from one of my favorite new Glassjaw songs, “Stars”. I could have punched both of the bastards for acting like children.
Glassjaw retreated for a few minutes. The crowd grew restless, hoping for their return. When the band came back, they played the Coloring Book EP in its entirety, and after the show, a man with a bushy red beard and longish blonde/red hair told me how great Glassjaw was and that I could expect a free EP on my way out of the venue.
He boisterously mimicked with pouted lips the sound of the guitar in one of Glassjaw’s songs, and at intervals, he would bang his head. His hair would fly loose and I could smell the scent of Suave for Men, or Pantene Pro V. Even hipsters gotta wash up often. (Read about L.A. girls loving oily hair)
This musical man, wearing black-framed hipster glasses, reminded me of a shorter version of Chuck Klosterman with bad beer breath. “I saw Glassjaw in San Antonio,” he said, straightening his hair with his fingers, “and I have to say, they’ve evolved with their fans. Not as much screaming any more, but a smooth transition into a more mature, poppy band. Glassjaw and their fans have grown up together.” This Chuck Klosterman look alike was drinking Bud Lite beer-I knew this because the other two tap beers offered were real beers, with a dark amber appearance. The beer in his cup was lightly colored. “My favorite song off this EP I got in San Antonio, and that you’re going to get right now, is ‘Stations of the Cross’. Phenomenal song. How long have you been growing out your hair?”
The shorter Klosterman walked beside me in the line that was moving its way outside. “Glassjaw’s trying to get out of its contract with Warner,” he said, finishing his beer. “And Warner bought Roadrunner, and Glassjaw hate Roadrunner. They’ve said very nasty things about them. The band found a way to bend the rules and give their fans free music without interfering with their Warner contract.”
We approached the lobby and Klosterman Jr. told me, “Grab your EP.” He pointed to the guys giving out orange CD cases. “Make sure you grab your free EP,” he kept saying, trading glances at my hands and at the hands of the men handing out the CD. “You’re going to love it. The Coloring Book. I’ve been listening to it nonstop since I got it in San Antonio.”
He recognized a girl and loudly called her name. I accepted the CD from one of the ushers and took the opportunity to slip away, outside, into the rain.