I’ve been listening to Jimmy Eat World for over half my lifetime. Crazy enough, the last (and only) time I attended a Jimmy Eat World show was in 2005 when they were opening for Green Day on the American Idiot tour. That’s pretty sad! Fortunately, I made some sort of amends this past Thursday when the Arizona quartet made their way through Indianapolis. Headlining one of those radio station holiday shows, the band played a 20+ song set that included a well balanced mixture of hits, deep cuts, fan favorites, and new songs.
I attended the show with my wife, my brother, and sister-in-law. My wife is unsurprisingly a huge Jimmy fan like me, but my brother only knew “The Middle” and “Sweetness.” By the end of the show, he was a bonafide new Jimmy Eat World fan, with songs like “Pass The Baby” and “Get Right” resonating with him the most. It’s always interesting to attend a show – especially a radio station produced “winter bash” – where you have that mix of diehards and fresh ears. Jimmy Eat World absolutely recognized this and it was reflected in their set list. They played a song each from Chase This Light, Invented, and Damage while dropping in “For Me This Is Heaven” for fans who fell in love with the band before “The Middle” made them a platinum-status rock band. They also appropriately dropped in their cover of Wham!’s “Last Christmas” which brought back memories of me feverishly shipping Seth and Summer. But overall the night was heavy on tracks from Bleed American, Futures, and their spectacular new album, Integrity Blues.
If you’ve been paying attention to the aesthetic of Integrity Blues it should be no surprise that the band’s stage set up features six street lights. Whether it was the seizure-inducing All-Of-The-Lights style barrage during the massive climax of “Pass The Baby,” the ominous low blue beam during the soaring intro of “23”, or Jim Adkins’ frenetic charisma, Jimmy Eat World’s stage presence was at an all-time best and showed that the veteran band still possesses the same energy (or more) of a band just starting out.
I first heard Clarity during the summer between eighth grade and my freshman year of high school. Bleed American was the soundtrack to my high school years, Futures the soundtrack while I was in college, and now Integrity Blues is the background noise as I continue into my thirties. It’s kind of a cool coincidence that I saw Jimmy Eat World play this show on my 31st birthday – a surreal moment where all the memories of my youth and all the promises of my future played before my very eyes. I cannot state how much I appreciate this band and how important they continue to be to me. That night was the perfect birthday gift for me and the show undoubtedly cemented Jimmy Eat World as a band you still cannot afford to miss when they come to your area. Throughout the last 16 years of my life I’ve seen similar bands peak and fade but very few can match Jimmy Eat World in terms of quality album releases and then taking those songs to another level (see Jimmy live if only for the spectacular “Pass The Baby,” a song that was made to be played incredibly loud live). A lot of times when a band releases their ninth album (which Integrity Blues is), they rest on their past laurels or enter the period of their career where it all starts to wind down. That’s quite the contrary for Jimmy Eat World – not only is Integrity Blues one of the greatest albums of their illustrious career, it’s the sound of a band that still feels like it has to prove something every single night.