Most people fall into one of three groups: die-hard Jimmy Eat World fans with a special place in their heart for the band’s take on coming-of-age growing pains and heartache, people who only know them for their few radio hits or that “Middle” song, or the musically ignorant.
I’m not saying that Jimmy Eat World is the most renowned rock band around, but they have been around for 17 years and supplied a plethora of teen comedies with songs for their trailers. Also, having the name “Jimmy Eat World” doesn’t hurt.
Thankfully, on Febraury 9th, these three groups of people converged together in a packed Dodd Auditorium to experience a more than enjoyable show.
David Bazan of Pedro the Lion fame opened with his backing band. Bazan played a mixture of his newer solo songs and some old Pedro the Lion favorites that showed off how much he’s grown as a songwriter and lyricist. Bazan provided some quality material that shouldn’t be overlooked for not being immediately catchy.
Sensing the audience’s awkward attention to him, Bazan jokingly asked the audience if anybody had any questions they wanted to direct to him. After a moment’s silence, somebody yelled “Free Bird” that felt more puzzling than humorous so Bazan laughed it off.
Despite that, the crowd was very welcoming to Bazan’s mopey but soulful indie rock, even giving him a half-standing ovation. Maybe they just really wanted Jimmy Eat World to start playing.
The crowd was more than ready for Jimmy Eat World. For the most part, they played flawlessly and it would be hard to find disapproval in the band’s tight, loud dynamic. They stand as one of the few live bands that can actually pull off their tricks live with little to no additional tracking support.
Starting the night was the brooding and punchy “Bleed American,” the title track off their 2001 platinum selling album of the same name. This is one of the Jimmy Eat World’s more aggressive songs, but it also shows off the band’s talents of being able to construct a simple yet effective, enduring rock song. One of the first striking things was the blaring lights that thankfully didn’t force anybody into an epileptic fit.
“My Best Theory,” a very accessible track, was a welcome addition to the band’s repertoire. A few of the newer tracks like “Action Needs An Audience” and “Evidence” seemed to bore though. I’m all for bands getting the opportunity to try their newer stuff, but these few certainly slowed the band’s momentum. Lead singer and vocalist Jim Adkins certainly gave it his all, appearing way more commanding as a front man than the lyrics he was singing might let on.
Taking a chance on the crowd’s patience was “No Sensitivity,” a fairly obscure Jimmy Eat World song that I’m guessing most crowd members had never heard, yet received fairly well. For the Jimmy Eat World purist though, it was a rare treat that most fans would probably kill for.
Rounding out the obvious singles were a few mellower songs like “23,” “Polaris” and “Work.” As a nice change of pace the band delved into its past with “Clarity” era favorites such as “For Me This Is Heaven,” the driving “Blister,” and ending the show before the encore with the classic “Goodbye Sky Harbor.”
The band quickly returned to the stage to finish the show.
Not surprisingly, the place went ballistic for “The Middle,” the band’s biggest and most impossible to ignore single from 2001. The energy of this song could probably have fueled another hour of the band’s playing without much protest.
Closing the show was the band’s ever popular, fan-favorite hit, “Sweetness,” which seemed a perfect choice to close with and left the audience with a more than satisfying jolt.
There were however a few missed songs that I can’t help but wish they had played such as “A Praise Chorus,” “Lucky Denver Mint,” “Always Be,” and “If You Don’t, Don’t.” But considering the group’s large back catalogue of gems, it would be hard to whittle down an all encompassing setlist that satisfied everybody.
Overall, Jimmy Eat World met expectations and wowed the audience by giving the crowd a praiseworthy performance. I’ll take this over Train any day.
[Photo credit: Marie Sicola]