Epic Sh*t with MSS – Jawbreaker / Smoking Popes @ Metro 4/3/96.

Since I started this series, I have been keeping notes on things that I think qualify as EPIC SH*T. It won’t always been music related, but this one is. This show didn’t save my life, but it changed it that’s for sure. Both bands are still in heavy rotation in my house. Jawbreaker’s Dear You is one of my favorite albums of all time. So is Smoking Popes’ Destination Failure. 1996 is the year and we’re at the Metro. It’s….

Back in 1995, legendary punk band Jawbreaker released Dear You. It ended up being the final album for the band as the members were on different pages as far as musical direction. The album was fucking panned by their fans as it was far more emo than punk, and a much more refined album than they had previously released.

None of this mattered to a young MSS though, as the opening chords of Save Your Generation (mixed with Blake Schwarzenbach’s vocals) made me swoon. It was tight. It was fast paced. It had great progressions. This was a guitar sound that I wanted to match, just seemed so full. There was a video for Fireman. Reeks of the 90’s. Watch it…

Anyways, as the album progressed the songs just got better and better till we hit Jet Black which might as well be the motherfucking anthem of 1996 for me. So goddamn depressing but just so damn good. Feel free to check out the whole album, you will NOT be disappointed.

My college roommate got the record from his younger sister who didn’t like it. What a fucking score. So we played that shit alot in our dorm, Stevenson Towers North, 10th Floor. D-Tower.

On our floor was a dude from Algonquin and he graduated from Jacobs. Now, if you went to Jacobs back in the 90’s you, or someone you knew, went to school with, or played a show with the Smoking Popes. 1996 they were on fire, touring in Europe, hit song on the Clueless soundtrack. They were THEE local boys done good. Our buddy was always rocking Get Fired and Born To Quit, and as any 90’s kid did, I was full on contrarian when it came to the Popes. I liked them, but I didn’t love them cause everyone else did.

I don’t know what was wrong with me. They were then, and they are now, a great band. The write great songs, they sound great. Anyways, I was included into the count for a show to go down at the Metro on April 3rd, featuring both Jawbreaker and Smoking Popes.

I remember my buddy telling us we needed to get to the Metro early so we could sit down, in the balcony. That seemed lame to me, but when we got there we went to the balcony and stood the entire set for the Popes. The place was packed. Like crazy packed and people were going ape shit. They tore through their set, had just been on a huge tour, seemed really beat and it was kinda a lackluster show according to my buddy. Set list here.

Right after they played their last song, easily 50% of the Metro left. It was nuts. Here is the headliner coming up and people were leaving. #Dedicated

I feel like if the people leaving knew it was one of the final shows Jawbreaker would play for decades, I think they would have stayed.

I ain’t gonna lie, some of the rougher / earlier stuff from Jawbreaker wasn’t my bag back then. I feel like it grew on me, but even now, I can only take so much of it. So many of those gems were wasted on me. But I remember all the songs off Dear You. They were great. A fun show. Set list here.

That night was a fun one and one that always stuck out as the time went by. Mostly cause Jawbreaker broke up months later. The Popes held on longer and released maybe their best album Destination Failure in 1997. I worked concert setup at NIU and worked several shows with them in the final years. They came through with Local H and played their final show on 10/15/1997. Online they say in the main ballroom, but it was in the basement of the student center, Diversions. I remember Eli signing some stuff for my sister telling me they were breaking up. It was a weird vibe Josh was absent, they didn’t seem to be getting along. There was drugs involved and when Josh got clean, it just wasn’t what he wanted to do. I recall being really mad cause they had really just released a great record and now it was over. After that original lineup they had a few other projects, but nothing like what they did as the Popes. Some of the newer stuff is good, don’t get me wrong, but Josh’s sweet spot was the high school break-up lyrics. That’s just hard to capture as you get older IMO.

Following Jawbreaker, Blake started up Jets To Brazil in 1997. They made 3 great albums in 5 years. Starting with Orange Rhyming Dictionary, they really wrote some great tunes. I saw them first at the Empty Bottle on that tour. I remember wanting to see them live to figure out how Blake made some sounds, found out it was a keyboard. Ha. They rocked and $1 beers ruled the night. Oddly, Eli (Popes) was at that show just hanging out. It was a great night and a good end to the 1st chapter of MSS living in IL.


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