Some bands seem so consistent that it is difficult to judge if they have really lost a step. They change with the times, sure, and even start to grow more reflective as they age, but the word “consistency” just works. To the point that it comes across as blasphemous to some extent. In many ways, Jimmy Eat World is one of those bands for me. There is such a consistency to what they do, especially over the course of every album they’ve released since 2007 (for the record that would be that year’s Chase This Light, 2010’s Invented and this year’s Damage), that I wonder if the greatness I pulled out of earlier releases–especially 2004’s Futures, my personal favorite of the band’s–that wasn’t there.
Prior to moving to the Carolinas, I had never seen JEW live. As of last night, I’ve seen them twice in Charlotte. I remember marveling at a very specific element of the live show during and after the first time seeing them play: they feel very real. I know, this is an overused phrase, but it seems apropos here. The band members–lead singer Jim Adkins, guitarist Tom Linton, bassist Rick Burch and drummer Zach Lind–have been together virtually since the beginning of the band, and you can feel the connectivity of four guys that have played together since the mid-90’s. That being said, they are not individually great musicians. They are good, but not flawless, and for me, both this time and last time out, was a major connecting point for me. These are four men who’ve worked hard to get where they are and who continue to work hard to write songs they feel connect with their audience. Last night proved that they can still do that.
After a few opening numbers from a band called Royal Bangs (who were fine, but not mind blowing), JEW came on stage and went right into the first song of what would be a 26-song set. It was mostly music, with minimal crowd interactions from Adkins or the others, although when they did interrupt the music with some chatter it felt genuine, a truly amazing thing given how long JEW has been at this.
They did an admirable job of covering songs from the band’s entire catalog, save for Static Prevails or the 2005 EP Stay On My Side Tonight, although neither exclusion was particularly surprising. JEW is one of those interesting bands that has a rather divided fan-base. There were people at the show who clearly have been there from the beginning (this guy to my left must have shouted for “Blister” from Clarity ten times during the show, including once after the third song, so which Adkins responded that he thought it was too early to be calling out requests, although he appreciated the suggestion) and then there are those who know them as that pop-punk band who wrote those fun songs “Sweetness” or “The Middle.” But for the most part, the crowd seemed pretty invested in the entire set. New cuts from Damage did throw some people (including the girls next to me, who I talked to between sets and as JEW played, who said the new album hadn’t sunk in yet), but overall the band managed to mix it up pretty well.
Again, though, the beautiful thing about the show was that it felt like a real rock band working hard to play the best they could and really delivering. Adkins and Linton occasionally missed notes in guitar solos, and a few voices traveled away from keys, but I don’t think anyone goes to a show like that expecting perfection. They entertain and that’s the point, and they do so with gusto and a true connection with their fans. That, above all, kept me invested in the show. Even as they grow up, the band continues to work hard and I cannot fault them for that. It was a really wonderful show overall, and I’m very glad I got to go and experience the music.
I Will Steal You Back
My Best Theory
Your New Aesthetic
Lucky Denver Mint
Hear You Me
We Are Never Getting Back Together (Taylor Swift cover)
For Me This Is Heaven (acoustic)
Heart Is Hard to Find
Let It Happen
Like She’ll Always Be
Coffee and Cigarettes
The Authority Song
A Praise Chorus
Chase this Light
Bleed American (Jimmy Eat World) 6
Chase This Light 4