Blake Schwarzenbach - live in Philadelphia (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

Blake Schwarzenbach

live in Philadelphia (2013)

live show

Online, Blake Schwarzenbach has built up a reputation for being a bit of a crazy person. As his alter ego Christopher Lager, he tends towards lengthy blog posts and nonsensical Facebook status updates. So when he announced a solo tour as the "2013 Mobile Disco Decathlon," it kind of sounded like it would cater more to his Lager performance art and less to the legacy Schwarzenbach built up through Jawbreaker, Jets to Brazil and forgetters.

Surprisingly, his show at Philadelphia's the Barbary Sat., June 29 was not a public meltdown, but rather an informal, brief set of originals, covers and stories. Without openers or much fanfare, Schwarzenbach first launched into a trio of tunes from last year's forgetters LP: a new version of "Turn Away" with an updated outro; a slowed down take on "O Deadly Death;" and a somber "In America." These tunes most directly tied into what Schwarzenbach claimed the show was about: searching for an America that was less stagnant.

Really, though, the whole thing was much more casual than that. Schwarzenbach cracked jokes throughout ("What's this band, the J.B.s? Jaybreaker?"). Rock ‘n' roll sometimes calls for a mix of truth and bullshit, and he delivered on that with a surprisingly heavy take on Bruce Springsteen's "Nothing Man," from 2002's The Rising. He opted for an almost shoegazey guitar tone, elevating a quiet little song into something more unhinged. It was a really cool cover, even if Schwarzenbach blew the whole thing off afterwards by sarcastically claiming he didn't care about the lyrics.

While not everyone gathered knew that tune, they all sure knew the words to Jawbreaker's "Chemistry." Even without drums ‘n' bass, that song still slays. While Schwarzenbach seems to be pretty over Jawbreaker, he still delivered the Dear You cut with plenty of bite.

Then he launched into a cover of Third Eye Blind's "How's It Going To Be," because anarchy.

After working in a few stories about his impending retirement from music ("We're going to burn whatever merch you don't buy after the show"), Schwarzenbach went out, curiously, with another cover: the Lemonheads' "My Drug Buddy." It was another solid interpretation, but given how brief the set turned out to be, it would have been nice to hear more originals. As is, the show turned out to more of a casual hangout, with Schwarzenbach holding court.

Turn Away
O Deadly Death
In America
Nothing Man (Bruce Springsteen)
How's It Going To Be (Third Eye Blind)
My Drug Buddy (Lemonheads)