Jimmy Eat World, it’s been too long.
Okay, so you played Holiday Havoc in December. And yes, there was the Life is Beautiful performance. But has it really been almost four years since you’ve headlined in Vegas?
Thankfully, the band (who is based just a day trip away from Vegas in Mesa, Arizona) more than made up for their absence by kicking off their latest tour in support of new album Integrity Blues right here at the House of Blues in Las Vegas. “We love playing Vegas” giddily exclaimed frontman Jim Adkins at the start of the band’s set, and it really showed.
I was first turned onto Jimmy Eat World’s brand of heartfelt emo rock through Clarity. That album is an absolute marvel in production, with soaring guitars, layered vocals and unique instrumentation. The band’s live show, by comparison, is absolutely minimal, but that’s not a bad thing. With a stage decorated with street lamps, the four members of the band came out and kicked things off with Blues opening track “You With Me” and from there, it was a ménage of hits and old favorites with little time for talking in between.
Being such a big Clarity fan, I couldn’t have been happier to hear “For Me This is Heaven,” “Lucky Denver Mint” and “Blister,” the latter of which being the only song performed that night with lead vocals by guitarist Tom Linton. The packed crowd clearly had their own favorites. Namely, songs from the band’s commercial breakthrough Bleed American. Adkins sounded fantastic belting out the title track, “A Praise Chorus,” “The Middle” and more with the crowd of 20 and 30 somethings screaming every word back at him.
Adkins also professed his love for openers Beach Slang and we’re definitely in agreement there. I arrived at the show directly from the road back from San Diego, where I caught the earnest, Replacements-influenced punks’ headlining set. The San Diego show had a fun, loose feel, with the band taking requests – both for original songs and covers.
As openers, Beach Slang stuck mostly to songs from their two full lengths, including “”Hard Luck Kid,” “Punks in a Disco Bar” and my personal favorite “Spin the Dial,” though they did work in a cover of Pixies’ “Where is My Mind” and threw in a few errant Santana and Lit riffs for good measure (“A lot of people don’t realize how influenced we are by Santana featuring Rob Thomas” frontman James Alex joked as guitarist Aurore Ounjian expertly approximated the riff from “Smooth”).
While the majority of the crowd were clearly not familiar with the band before this set, their high energy performance and frontman James Alex’s earnest charm – from announcing that “We’re here to punch you right in the heart” to reading off a list of people fans say he looks like (i.e. Christopher Lloyd in the 80s with his hair died, that one guy from the Strokes, Angus Young) – was quick to win over the show’s early birds.
Photos by Hunter Wallace | https://www.flickr.com/photos/hunter_wallace/
Jimmy Eat World setlist:
You with Me
I Will Steal You Back
Hear You Me
If You Don’t, Don’t
Pass the Baby
For Me This Is Heaven
Lucky Denver Mint
You Are Free
A Praise Chorus
The Authority Song
My Best Theory
Sure and Certain
Beach Slang setlist:
Hard Luck Kid
Ride the Wild Haze
Punks in a Disco Bar
Future Mixtape for the Art Kids
Spin the Dial
Bad Art & Weirdo Ideas
Where Is My Mind? (Pixies cover)