J. Robbins has as much claim to the title "Post-HarDCore Veteran" as anybody. His work as a member of onetime local heroes Jawbox and Government Issue has established a reputation that drew a very large crowd to the Black Cat Saturday night for a show by his newest band, Burning Airlines. Few left disappointed.
Make no mistake, Burning Airlines is by no means a Jawbox retread. The main thing is that Burning Airlines is a three-piece band with a single guitar. This, by convention, means a little less ambiance so that Robbins's guitar can be focused on punk's power. Still, some of its songs do beg for a little less edge, and these were performed just as well, especially when founding member Bill Barbot came onstage for the second half of the set, primarily playing keyboards. It is rare to see a crowd at the Black Cat go wild, regardless of the performance, and on Saturday order did prevail. But at moments it was obvious that many were finding it difficult to restrain themselves.
Peter Moffett, who was also in Government Issue, drove the show with strong drumming, and Mike Harbin also earned plaudits for his bass work. Robbins's fine voice covered a wide spectrum, one moment a whimsical vocal melody, the next a well-endowed howl.
Opening act Up On In deserves mention. The instrumental trio played a set so strong, with twangy guitar, sauteed bass lines and schizophrenic beat changes, that finding the right adjective to describe it would be like trying to translate "Finnegans Wake" into Latin.