Shot for Buzzbands.LA
Now touring in support of their ninth album, “Integrity Blues,” Phoenix soul-searchers Jimmy Eat World performed last night to a sold-out crowd of glassy-eyed fans at the Observatory in Santa Ana. The band emerged and started their 26-song set with “You With Me” from their new record. When Jimmy Eat World landed in the early 2000s, they already had a small cult following. It was 2001 when their third album “Bleed American” (quickly reissued as a self-titled album after 9/11) lent a couple radio hits, putting the band into an emo/alt-rock trajectory up through today. Six albums later, Jimmy Eat World have retained their evocative, emotional core and their fans have grown with them. The audience at the Observatory was excited and vulnerable – and having matured alongside the band, you could see in the eyes of many that they were there to spend time with an old flame.
Some of the night’s biggest hits were the rip-roaring “Bleed American,” “If You Don’t, Don’t,” “Futures” and “A Praise Chorus,” but the slightly deeper cuts from Jimmy Eat World’s cult-classic 1999 album “Clarity” were the gems that gave all the feels. “For Me This Is Heaven,” bounce-along “Lucky Denver Mint” and even “Blister” sung by guitarist Tom Linton, were beloved nostalgic staples, satiating the band’s long-term hangers-on. Drummer Zach Lind was tight in concentration all night and at a closer look, he’s barely aged at all in the last 15 years. Bassist Rick Burch tossed his hair around, occasionally smiling at exuberant fans in the pit. While there was very little talk between band members or songs, the camaraderie and comfort were pleasantly palpable.
Jimmy Eat World, often dismissed by those who perhaps never developed that soft spot at the right time, still put on a show just as forceful and energetic as they would have back when they started as a Metallica cover band. The set navigated through their large catalog and seemed to flow seamlessly even with the newer tracks. Sweaty frontman Jim Adkins steamed up the room with his power-strumming and familiar vocals.
They closed their main set with “Work” and “Pain” from 2004’s “Futures,” then returned for a three-song encore beginning with their big hit “The Middle” and into new track “Sure & Certain.” As they finished off with popular single “Sweetness” from “Bleed American,” arms flailed and temperatures were taken up a couple notches. As the band waved goodbye and smiled genuinely at their thoughtful devotees now lost in reverie, it was clear that in spite of Jimmy Eat World’s often unseen trudge through their career, there were never any cobwebs to wipe away. While they may never escape their spot in the middle, after 23 years, they still remain steady in their place – now even safer in their knowledge that that happiness is overrated.