The Sound of the Mission

In one of SFist‘s first posts of the year, Christopher Rogers takes a look at Jawbreaker, a beloved San Francisco punk band that broke up over a decade ago. Nonetheless, Rogers calls their sound, “now and forever the sound of the Mission.” Link.

Is he right? Jawbreaker’s time here certainly predated mine, so I can’t really identify. Toshio Hirano or Jonathan Richman might be my sound of the Mission. Or Omer, if he weren’t such a dick to people. Or The Fucking Champs if they’d come out of exile. What is the sound of the Mission?


Toshio Hirano at Rite Spot

Katie Reviews Jonathan Richman’s New Album

Omer Talk

Fucking Champs New Year’s Eve at 12 Galaxies

21 Responses to “The Sound of the Mission”

  1. Katie Ann says:

    Why are they the sound of the Mission? I think I’m missing something.

  2. bro says:

    The sound of the Mission is the sound of a bunch of white yuppies letting out self-satisfied sighs after realizing how great they are for paying a rent premium to live in a neighborhood that they think gives them some kind of cred

  3. Justin says:

    Jawbreaker is _the_ sound of the Mission, at least the Mission that every “misses” and romanticizes. The track “Kiss The Bottle” (can be found at for a listen) is a perfect example of a great story rooted in the neighborhood.

    Coincidentally Blake’s new band Thorns of Life is playing at 924 Gilman on the 31st for Punk Rock Joel’s birthday. Aaron Cometbus plays drums. It will be a rad time.

    I would say the current “sound of the mission” is probably some half-assed faux-electro mashup. Perhaps an MGMT track slammed into a Joy Division song.

  4. zinzin says:

    i believe jonathan richman lives in mission terrace, actually.

    that said, and per bro’s comment above, i think the sound of the mission is a mismatched chorus of languages and vernaculars all jangling & blaring in a somehow-pleasing-to-some way.

    a way that makes all kinds of people want to hear more (maybe not bro, but still).

    that’s the sound of my mission anyways.

  5. Katie Doze says:

    Thanks Justin. And it’s not about where Jonathan lives, it’s about what he brings to the neighborhood. Like when he uses to play at Aquarius Records with Ralph Carney on the congos.

  6. zinzin says:

    um, yeah. sorry, i was making a joke. it’s obviously not about where jonathan lives. it’s about what he gives.

    that said, i never heard ralph (who lives in bernal) play anything but winds. he must be a mad bongo player.

  7. emily says:

    what about hickey? fuckboyz? or maybe they were the sound of the mission that didn’t SUCK ASS… yuppies ruin everything. if yuppies start listening to hickey, th whole world will be consumed be fire and locusts.

  8. mookie says:

    jawbreaker were the sound of The Mission, along w/j church and a few others(like Hickey and whatever band Tommy Strange fronted)…but that was the Mission of 10–15 years ago, when there was still the “17 REASONS WHY” sign flying high. rents were high then too, but it was easier to find a cheap room to rent for sure. But El Stinkalito still smells the same!

  9. zinzin says:

    ya know, if we’re gonna be proprietary and / or territorial about it, and strictly musical, the sound of the mission is probably Tigres del Norte or Vicente Fernandez (old stuff) or Big Pun or Daddy Yankee or Nigga (current stuff) or even the mariachi bands that walk up & down mission street (timeless). just give a listen to what’s playing in the cars on the street or the apartment next door. it’s generally not music made by white people.

    that said, hickey is a really good historical candidate, and f-boyz too (though this music is 10+ years old). true, first-generation, white-kid-takeover mission pioneers.

    (i can’t believe i am agreeing with emily about something, btw).

    i dont know any yuppies that listen to hickey now, so i guess we’re safe on the fire & locust tip. at the time though…there were a surprisingly wide array of people at the local shows. especially the unpublicized, free, outdoor, late-at-night, technically “illegal” shows (ie Live at Leeds). not surprising…sf has always been friendly to scene crossovers, and lurkers, and this was a great live show, and a great time, so people definitely came.

    (and then there’s me. i wasn’t a yuppie then, well, then again maybe i was. yuppie-in-training. certainly am now. but i do still listen to them on occasion. Matty was a friend of a friend and we hung out a few times before he died. i didnt get to know him well, but he was smart & talented, and dedicated and passionate and funny, and optimistic in that revolutionary way….he’s one scenester that really lived up to the subsequent, post-OD legend / hype / hyperbole. and it’s sad he went the way he did. he had a great memorial in dolores park. the music and memories and SFNE in particular are a great legacy.)

    sorry to be verbose on that one. this is a big part of my early SF daze. and i’m on vacation from my imperialist yuppie scum neighborhood ruining fire & locust job for a couple more days, so i have some time on my hands. next i’m going outside and building some market rate condos, and insulting some poor people to their face.

  10. the passionistas- they are actually from the mission, not transplants like everybody else you mentioned. plus there name is spanglish and they are weirdos.

  11. Katie Ann says:

    How about a mariachi band? Why is the sound of the mission all white people?

  12. Hi there, I like that you took the article one step further.

    I didn’t mean to make my statement THAT definitive, but, well, yeah; Jawbreaker is one of that bands whose sound was defined by the area at the time and I think you can hear it directly in their music.

    If you listen to their music, you can hear The Mission in it. At least I think so.

  13. There’s a 7″ minibox compilation called “The Mission District: 17 Reasons.” Bought it at Mission Records, of course.

    Bedlam Rovers — “Corner Store”
    J Church — “The Sound Of Mariachi Bands”
    Jawbreaker — “Kiss The Bottle”
    Steel Pole Bathtub — “Down All The Days”
    Strawman — “Ballast”
    Timco — “Blackout”

    Has a map of The Mission inside the box.

  14. The sound of The Mission is whatever you make it to be. Etc.

  15. johnny0 says:

    OK, this is confusing:

    Vive La Montreal Libre! They do kind of sound like Blink 182…

    Any signs of the 17 Reasons album online? 1992 proto-tubes yields little.

  16. JimBeam says:

    They’re the best band to come out of the mission. Also, the drummer owns Lost Weekend Video. Also, he played in a band with J Church frontman Whysall Lane, which is also really good.

    Thorns of Life looks like it’ll be good.

  17. radio valencia says:

    I Am Spoonbender are an o.g. sound of the mission. And still the future of it too!

  18. [...] to the song in question here. Might be a little mellow to be the sound of the Mission, but it’s [...]

  19. thuglifecrunk187 says:

    viva Los Tigres! ay yi yi!