I met my husband before dating apps were the norm. I feel grateful for this — mainly because I’ve never had to meet a stranger after already texting and/or talking to them for a potentially long period of time… but alas, last night I just met “someone” that I feel like I’ve been online dating metaphorically for about, oh, 20 years?
Let me explain. Jawbreaker are one of my favorite bands of all time. The band, unfortunately, broke up before I could see them live — and if you’re anything like me and seeing a band live is just as important as listening to the record on repeat — you can understand the yearning I’ve felt to hear the most perfect songs from Dear You performed live, in real time, perfectly or even imperfectly before my very eyes.
And that day took a lot of years to come my way, but the day when we would meet IRL finally arrived, and that day was April 3, 2022.
Seldom do I actually feel starstruck (save for when I saw Phoebe Bridgers in the flesh buying vegan cream cheese at the Kitchen Mouse bakery two weeks ago, and I legitimately dropped my croissant), but last night when I was poking around the bar/merch area before Jawbreaker took the stage at The Wiltern in Los Angeles, my eyes caught a full glimpse of Blake Schwarzenbach, and I swear I had to remind myself to breathe.
I learned long ago not to have heroes in this scene. We’re all just people — and putting people on a pedestal can get dangerous, but witnessing someone who I’ve lyrically and musically obsessed over walking and talking and being present in a corporeal sense last night sent the most tangible wave of serotonin and adrenaline through my body. And all of that was before the band took the stage.
And in between that moment of visual confirmation that the band did in fact exist, there was another moment of “oh wow-ness” right before Jawbreaker took the stage when a wonderfully large backdrop with the most classic logo dropped ever so gently from the ceiling. Falling from the rafters of The Wiltern, it felt as delicate as a feather falling from the sky and moving almost in slow motion — and perfectly accented by what sounded like the soundtrack from an old Spaghetti Western film.
And then, after tuning their own instruments for a brief moment, my heroes, Jawbreaker, came alive.
It really took a moment for the realness of the event to sink in. At first, my poor COVID-exhausted brain (Did I bring my vax card? Is the guy standing next to me standing too close? I swear the guy behind me just sneezed…) couldn’t really process what was happening. But slowly, one by one, the little synapses in my prefrontal cortex got up, stood on their chairs and starting yelling, “This is really happening!” And midway through “Save Your Generation,” something clicked that I was not watching a show that had been filmed with an early ’90s camcorder and posted to YouTube years later on my tiny phone — this show was real and really happening — and all just for me.
And that’s what it felt like to see Jawbreaker a million years after they broke up — that the show being played was just for me. I don’t usually sway into the narcissist category of personalities (at least I hope I don’t), but I feel like I can take a huge leap and speak for everyone in attendance and say that that’s how everyone gathered under that wonderfully designed ceiling felt. That show was for us and no one else. It was ours to experience in the moment like a fleeting cherry blossom, and take the memory home all alone, and put it into a little box for safekeeping and to treasure forever and ever.
The show was flawless. It was one of the loudest shows I’ve ever been to — even with industrial-strength earplugs, my ears rang all night. I loved every second of it, and Blake’s banter between songs was just as precious as hearing the songs themselves. I even saved my ticket stub, just like 16-year-old me would have. —Amy Fleisher Madden