In a time that is marked by an enormous uprising in pop music it is refreshing to find a band that embodies something a little bit deeper. There is certainly a lot to be said for music with intelligent, emotional lyrics that is composed of more than just three chords. Jets to Brazil can absolutely claim to be a band that generates such music.
The Jets recently played a show at the relatively small Black Cat here in D.C. It was clear throughout their set that the band has no pretensions and that they are in this business to make music, not to get on MTV or get laid like so many of their contemporaries.
Jets to Brazil played a solid set throughout which they truly seemed to enjoy themselves. At one point, after the band had played an extended rendition of “Crown of the Valley,” a member of the audience remarked, “look at that, they know they nailed it.” Indeed, for the entirety of the show the Jets had that glow of satisfaction in knowing that they’ve done something well.
The Jets played a varied set that included songs from all of their albums. The lead singer, Blake Schwarzenbach, switched back and forth between guitar and keyboard and it is certainly arguable as to which he plays better. The band’s set was even better because they did not just play the songs straight off their CDs, but rather extended the songs the way a jam band would.
The opening bands The Love Scene and Rhetosonic played solid sets, but despite their valiant efforts it was clear that the audience was there for one reason, to see Jets to Brazil. Although both bands may have lacked the true appreciation of the audience, they certainly did not lack musical quality. The Love Scene, an alternative rock band with an almost bluegrass edge, played a melodic set, while Rhetosonic added more energy with their upbeat punk rock sound.
Jets to Brazil has a strong advantage when it comes to music because they are made up of seasoned musicians who seriously know their stuff. These are not a bunch of freshmen rockers who have only recently learned how to play their instruments, but rather skilled musicians who have the genuine ability to write songs.
The band is fronted by Schwarzenbach, formally of the acclaimed punk band Jawbreaker, on vocals, guitar and sometimes keyboard and Jeremy Chatelain on bass and backup vocals. The Jets were originally created after the breakup of Jawbreaker by Schwarzenbach, Chatelain and drummer Chris Daly in the late 90s and they have been producing comparatively mature music ever since.
The Jets have released three full-length albums to date, the most recent being “Perfecting Loneliness” in 2002. All of their releases have been generally well-received, although some of their earlier fans may have been drawn in by Jawbreaker’s former popularity. Schwarzenbach has an extremely distinctive voice which was popularized by his work with Jawbreaker and further embraced by fans in Jets to Brazil. Despite the initial attraction caused by the member’s previous bands, Jets to Brazil has since established a solid reputation as their own entity.
The argument between whether it is better to play a small venue, like the Black Cat, or a stadium is often difficult to conclude, however in the case of a band like this it is apparent that a smaller venue is the way to go. Because the Black Cat is so small, there is no barricade in front of the stage and audience members can get up close and personal with the bands that play there. This closeness allowed the Jets to connect with the audience.
Today’s pop-driven bands are not necessarily bad entertainers and most of them make decent music, but most of them would be lying if they were to call themselves songwriters and in some cases, musicians.
Jets to Brazil is a refreshing breath of fresh air in a music industry polluted by bands who are not interested in music for music’s sake. Do yourself a favor and see them in concert because, in the case of Jets to Brazil, a live show will absolutely allow you to appreciate them more fully.