Touring bills where the opening acts outshine the headlining band are a rare sight. However, I’d argue that the “8 Tour” in support of Incubus’ new record is one such tour. The openers, folk/indie-pop hybrid Judah and the Lion and the stalwart and ever-incredible Jimmy Eat World, put on a master class of performance that threatened to rip the crowd’s attention away from the headliner’s 20-song set and decades-spanning production. I photographed both band’s sets at the BB & T Pavilion in Camden, NJ last week and you can see some of my pictures below.
Judah and the Lion, who last year played the biggest run of shows of their career while opening on the sold out “Emotional Roadshow” for Twenty One Pilots, surely learned a thing or two from the aforementioned duo on stage presence and performance histrionics. Fresh off last year’s LP Folk Hop N Roll, the band’s set featured a coordinated dance breakdown, more than a few aerials off the drum set and a bombastic cover of “Mr. Brightside.” As I said on Twitter after the show, if we’re ever in need of a new National Anthem, “Mr. Brightside” would be as good a choice as any. Everyone would know the words, and people would be too busy singing along to complain about other people “disrespecting it.” Once you’ve seen 20,000 strong sing along to it in unison as I did earlier this year when I saw The Killers play this same venue, you’d know what I mean. Judah and the Lion vocalist Judah Akers ended up in the crowd, celebrating the last song of the band’s set, “Take It All Back,” with a dance party in the cheap seats of the lawn.
Meanwhile, Jimmy Eat World blasted through a set of 15 songs in just under an hour, sparing their stage banter in favor of fitting as many songs into their set as possible. When you have as deep and consistently monumental a discography as they have, it is the best decision a band could possibly make. The discography spanning set included at least one song from each of their studio albums since Clarity with the exception of Invented, whose lead single “My Best Theory” was played on other dates of the tour. The totality of the set, though, came from their most recent full-length record, Integrity Blues, which this reviewer gave high praise when it came out last fall. The songs from Integrity Blues translate better live than almost any other in their discography, with the climactic moments of “Pass The Baby” sounding absolutely built for the cavernous echo and blaring PA systems of amphitheater stages. And any show which is able to close with a 1-2-3 punch of Bleed American classics “A Praise Chorus,” “Sweetness,” and the “The Middle” is a show that can bring the house down. On top of having the deepest bench of songs to choose from (Chase this Light cut “Always Be” is a delight here), the band is absolutely the tightest live band on the planet.