I must admit, despite Jimmy Eat World’s ability to maintain such wide and long lasting appeal, they’re a band I only ever moderately got into. I remember loving hits from Bleed American and Futures when I was a teenager, obsessing over “23” during my mid twenties (appropriately), and then casually enjoying whatever recent single they put out to promote their latest release. I could probably blame Emogame for cementing them as emo “sellouts” in my mind and preventing me from giving them an honest listen. Still, unjustifiable typecasting wasn’t enough for me to pass up on getting tickets to see them with Microwave and The Hotelier, and I’m glad it wasn’t. Jimmy Eat World put on a show that was enough to eviscerate my wrongly held teenage misconceptions and turn me into a believer.
Before Jim Adkins, Zach Lind, Tom Linton, and Rick Burch pwned my pretentious ass, emo darlings Microwave wet the palate with enough energy and enthusiasm to warrant additional listens. The Hotelier followed to my eager delight and I was excited to see them play to a much bigger audience than they did last time they were in St. Louis. Unfortunately, guitar problems plagued their opening track, “Goodness Pt 2”, so we were treated to persistent drums fueling Christian’s wailing vocals for a bit longer, which in the end created a more climatic effect when the guitars finally kicked in. The rest of the set leaned towards songs from their most recent release, which I found myself appreciating more upon hearing them live for a second time. The few fan favorites they played from Home, Like Noplace Is There seemed a bit sluggish, as if they were playing them deliberately at a slower tempo. It felt as if they had slowed down their more energetic songs in order to not out rock the headliner. I soon discovered such a task would be near impossible.
But when Jimmy Eat World first came on stage, I still clung to a smidge of curiosity. Would they confirm my old perceptions or shatter them? Their answer was an onslaught of hits spread throughout their discography. It was entrancing to watch a group jump from era to era in their history playing each song with relentless passion, regardless of the sonic differences. There were old cuts a la their more identifiable emo days, big stadium rock anthems, and pop acoustic numbers that were, dare I say, erm, “Swiftian” in nature (which was essentially every obligatory acoustic song by an emo band in the early 200s).
Never once did I find myself not enjoying myself. It helped that frontman Jim Adkins roped me in with his vigor, charm, and earnestness as a frontman; a man of few words who showed his zeal every second he was singing and playing. Watching these middle aged men unabashedly enjoying themselves on stage flipped a switch in me. Reputation, acclaim, and “street cred” became less important than creating with honesty, joy, and positivity. It is clear that these three aspects permeate everything Jimmy Eat World does, so who am I to write them off? In fact, their enduring presence in the music industry is something that should be celebrated and imitated more. And the best thing is my opinion hopefully doesn’t mean ANYTHING to Jimmy Eat World. Like they said in their seminal song “The Middle”: “Live right now. Just be yourself. It doesn’t matter if that’s good enough for someone else.” Rock on, young saviors.