Glassjaw Rocky Point Cantina, Tempe Tuesday, July 23, 2013 Before Glassjaw took the stage, the atmosphere at Rocky Point Cantina was tense, punctuated by fans shouting things like "where the fuck have you been?" as they stared anxiously at the green room door. Watching the band perform a 90-minute set in the crowded venue would prove to be a cathartic experience.
The band last performed at the Clubhouse a couple of years ago to an equally (if not more) packed venue. Both shows felt long overdue for a band that was in its heyday nearly a decade ago. Glassjaw has since released a couple of EPs, but not much is new for the band in 2013. The band just so happens to be playing a short, five-day tour with the Tempe date falling smack dab in the middle of it.
Most of the events I have attended in the past couple of months have been fairly lackluster. The heat plays into it -- I can see the strain of it on both bands and fans. I wasn't expecting much from this mid-summer show, but Glassjaw would quickly prove me wrong.
Opening with an onslaught of "Mu Empire," "Pink Roses," and "Jesus Glue," Glassjaw showed what aggressive music should be about. The front row was full of fans screaming along, with the occasional crowd surfer stumbling on stage.
Frontman Daryl Palumbo acknowledged the band's absence and asked if the show was "going the way you wanted it to go" after "Tip Your Bartender." The opening track of 2002's seminal post-hardcore record Worship and Tribute showed an early spike of crowd participation.
The venue may have felt like a sauna, but that didn't stop fans from jumping in the circle pit.
Most of Glassjaw's set was aggressive, to the delight of fans. While "Tip Your Bartender" and "Siberian Kiss" were some of the best songs of the evening, Glassjaw showed off its musical prowess with songs like "The Gillette Cavalcade of Sports" and "Two Tabs of Mescaline," which start slow and build tension that eventually erupts into a screaming fit and fans pounding their fists against the stage.
The crowd appeared to be losing stamina during "Gold," a fast-paced song from 2011's Coloring Book EP. The song sounded good, the main issue was likely exhaustion and dehydration, or fans saving their energy for later. As soon as the familiar chords of "Siberian Kiss" sounded, the audience went absolutely crazy, as if that were the song fans were waiting to hear all night.
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Glassjaw kept things old and aggressive with closing song "Babe," also from 2000's Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Silence, wrapping up a solid set full of fan favorites, and one of the best shows I've seen all summer.
Critic's Notebook: Last Night: Glassjaw at Rocky Point Cantina. Personal Bias: I really wish I could have seen these guys in 2002. The Crowd: Most looked like they rocked an asymmetrical haircut at some point in their life. Does that make them post-post hardcore? Overheard in the Crowd: Lots of Head Automatica jokes. I don't think Daryl will ever be able to live that down. Random Notebook Dump: I feel like I'm going to die.