Glassjaw - live in New York (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick


live in New York (2011)

live show

Glassjaw set up a pretty cool show for older fans of Long Island hardcore. Sort of. Best Buy Theater is, after all, a pretty huge venue: It's a 2100-capacity "room" right on Broadway in Times Square, it's got a rather large barricade, and there's even a seating option. So if you were accustomed to seeing bands like Glassjaw, Vision of Disorder and Mind Over Matter in VFWs and American Legion Halls throughout the 1990s, this setting was probably a little jarring. Myself? I didn't get into Glassjaw until the band broke through with 2002's Worship and Tribute, and Mind Over Matter were a little before my time; I wouldn't get a chance to see them until a 2008 reunion show at the barricade-wielding Crazy Donkey, so I suppose it was nothing new for me. I was just ecstatic to see a proper headlining set from Glassjaw for the first time in years, and to see another set from a rather overlooked '90s hardcore act.

Mind Over Matter came on a little later than seemingly scheduled; it would seem that the concept of running on "hardcore time" even extends to events as convoluted as these. But when they did, it was worth the wait. For those unaware, the band were a semi-progressive hardcore act that played a pretty unconventional strain of the stuff, with really taut atmospheres, intelligible vocals, controlled, smart dynamics and intricate, introspective lyrics. A pretty big influence on Glassjaw, for sure. They had admirable energy for a group of aging guys who don't do this very often, and they had plenty of nostalgic, 30-plus-year-old fans in attendance going off–even a few younger patrons who probably didn't know much about the band seemed to be into it. The band played a solid mix of stuff off their two full-lengths, including crowd favorite "Mindset Overhaul"–Daryl Palumbo borrowed lyrics from this song verbatim for the end of "Must Have Run All Day", so it made sense when I saw him came out on stage to presumably help sing it...though I'm not even sure if he stayed to do so.

Set list (may be incomplete, but in order):

  • Hectic Thinking
  • Parts
  • Virus
  • Automatic Crowd
  • Mindset Overhaul
  • Lifeloss
  • Automanipulation
  • God Hates Me

Vision of Disorder followed with a decidedly heavier set of hardcore, a sort of full-brunt sound that inspired a greater legion, mosh action. While I can't deny the sheer intensity and pummel of their sound, as well as the lively stage show, the band has this certain nü-metal jibe to some of their material that always throws me off. Needless to say, I was disappointed when they announced one song as "Hard Times", only for it to be a new, original song and not a Cro-Mags cover. Crowd was into it, though.

Glassjaw's set was great, in a strange way. There was this persistent swell and rumble to it all. Beck, Manny and Durijah seemed to be complacent with acting as background figures providing the noisy foundation, looking like pixelated silhouettes against a backdrop of flashing, almost festive lighting while Palumbo stormed and swayed across the front of the stage. For the most part, that seemed to be enough to whip the crowd into a frenzy.

The audience looked more sedated during the spacier grumble of newer songs like "Daytona White" and "Stations of the New Cross", of course. Some, in fact, were probably severely bummed out; I've heard more than one comment regard the new stuff as having more of a dubstep feel, and while I wouldn't accuse the band of trend-hopping, or even agree it sounds remotely that way on, sure. That makes sense. But the atmosphere, to me anyway, seemed gargantuan and invigorated. It feels like a new musical chapter in the band's oft-delayed method, post-post-hardcore that propels ethereal, beauty-tinged repetition through unpredictable noise and squalls. And while I can't deny the chaotic power of older songs like "Tip Your Bartender" or "Lovebites and Razorlines" (another moment of lyric lifting for Palumbo; see the Nation of Ulysses' "A Comment on Ritual"), these tracks bring another whole dynamic that I, for one, welcome. Palumbo was even improvising or changing lines of older tracks–perhaps something of a sign he recognizes the admittedly outlandish aspect of his violent lashing out at exes. Maybe it's a poetic license he doesn't care to renew, and just part of this newer more measured and yet musically experimental approach.

Set list (10:14-11:30):
  1. Black Nurse
  2. Gold
  3. You Think You're (John Fucking Lennon)
  4. Lovebites and Razorlines
  5. Jesus Glue
  6. Mu Empire
  7. Pink Roses
  8. Natural Born Farmer
  9. Stuck Pig
  10. Daytona White
  11. Vanilla Poltergeist Snake
  12. Tip Your Bartender
  13. The Gilette Cavalcade of Sports
  14. All Good Junkies Go to Heaven
  15. Two Tabs of Mescaline
  16. Siberian Kiss
    Encore (11:33-11:43):
  17. Miracles in Inches
  18. Stations of the New Cross