I’m not sure I have ever anticipated a new album with quite the furor that I anticipated Jimmy Eat World’s Chase This Light in the fall of 2007. Futures had been a game-changer for me, the album that transformed me from a budding music listener into a voracious, lifelong die-hard. As often happens when you’re young, the three years that stretched between the October 19, 2004 release of Futures and the October 16, 2007 release of Chase This Light seemed to last an eternity. (I was 13 when the former came out and 16 for the arrival of the latter.) The wait was eased a bit by the 2005 release of the Stay on My Side Tonight EP, but the dark, moody nature of those songs only made me want a full-length. An album packed of songs like “Disintegration” and “Closer”? Count me in.
Chase This Light was decidedly not that record. Futures gave the band two basic paths forward. The first was to embrace the moody, late night autumnal vibe that manifested on songs like “Polaris” and “23.” That path evidently led to Stay on My Side Tonight, which was made up of songs the band had written for Futures but hadn’t finished or put on the record. The second possible path was for Jimmy Eat World to keep following their arc as a glossy studio band. They’d made Futures with Gil Norton, a well-respected rock producer known for making big, robust rock albums. Futures sounded appropriately huge, and there was some feeling—particularly in radio singles like “Pain” and “Work”—that Jimmy Eat World could be a massive radio rock band for the new millennium if they wanted to be. They could prove that “The Middle” wasn’t just a fluke hit.
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.
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.
There are dangerous and very real consequences for using fear of “The Other” to motivate a potential electorate. While that’s nothing new in politics, what is newly alarming in context of the current presidential campaign is how seemingly effective that strategy has been for a certain candidate. That candidate used the low-hanging fruit of fearmongering to gain his initial momentum…and continues to employ variations of it to sustain his place. The only way to steel yourself against that kind of manipulation is to do the real self-work in discovering and letting go of your own fears. While that pursuit is difficult because it means fighting against your own ego, it remains worth the effort – not just for what it can do for us as individuals but even more for what it can do for our collective society. Are you willing to accept that maybe, just possibly what you feel as a threat, isn’t?
“The open road is still miles away. Ain’t nothing serious. We still have our fun. Oh, we had it once.” These words, from the second verse of Jimmy Eat World’s perpetually underrated song, “The World You Love,” sum up so much of why I have fallen head-over-heels in love with this band over the past five years of my life. Jimmy Eat World’s music is best represented by the open road late night drives that “The World You Love” calls to mind. The freedom to explore the best of what the world has to offer.
My life is currently in a state of transition. One change, in particular, looms larger than the others. One of my closest friends, and one of the catalysts for thrusting me headfirst into Jimmy Eat World super fandom, is moving 600 miles away at the end of the month. Someday, maybe soon, I will end up relocating as well. So that line, so symbolic of the open road optimism for the future, is also simultaneously so wistful about the places we’re leaving behind, and the fun we’re putting in the rear-view mirror.
It’s this tightrope act between pensive, longing reflection on the past and relentless optimism for the future that I pondered as I drove north on I-287 through the rain, with no clear destination in mind, and the dashboard clock winding towards midnight. And sound-tracking that late-night drive was Integrity Blues, the breathtaking ninth studio album from Jimmy Eat World.