"Are you guys ready for the sickest fucking rock band in the fucking world?"
And with that statement by Recover's lead singer, Jimmy Eat World's two-night sold-out stint at the Riviera Theatre in Chicago began.
First up was the aforementioned Recover. This band has garnered a lot of buzz around them recently, and I couldn't exactly see why. They were alright [I kind of thought of them as a less whiny Thursday], but nothing mind boggling. I know they played "Bad Timing" [a song which I still think is not very good at all], and they closed with "Rodeo." The audience was surprisingly warm to them [I would've figured at a venue this size, the JEW radio fans would've been much more harsh]. They played a quick 25 minute set and a few broken strings later, they were off the stage.
Next up was the Promise Ring. After interviewing Dan earlier in the day [look for that up on the site soon], I was sufficiently psyched to see them again live [if you remember, I saw them in Iowa City last March]. Their sound on the very large stage was actually very clear, and the band sounded pretty damn good, if I do say so myself. Their set was about half and half new stuff/old stuff, with the Wood/Water representatives being "Size Of Your Life," "Stop Playing Guitar," "Suffer Never," "Become One Anything One Time," "My Life Is At Home," "Feed The Night," and set closer "Get On The Floor." The older songs were what you'd expect: "Happiness Is All The Rage," "Red And Blue Jeans," "Why Did We Ever Meet," and "A Picture Postcard" all made appearances and had a semi-decent portion of the crowd on the floor bobbing their heads and singing along like it was 1998 all over again. Davey was also on the ball, humorwise. There were two guys in the audience who were dressed up as hillbillies [that was my best guess]. He did his best of lovingly heckling them, and they took it in stride [Colonel Sweet Mesquite and Danvo(?), thanks for letting me talk to you before Jimmy]. The Promise Ring made good use of their approximately 45 minutes of set time, although it's sad to say that they got the most applause when they announced they were playing their last song. Damn kids.
Next was the band everyone was waiting for, Jimmy Eat World. The heat in the venue felt like it doubled as the teenage girls and frat boys shoved their way to the front for the band's emminent arrival. The band took the stage and began with an opening salvo of "A Praise Chorus" and "Bleed American," followed by Clarity tracks "Your New Asthetic" and "Blister." It went back and forth for the majority of the show, with the setlist being almost as "Clarity" heavy as it was new album heavy. "A Sunday," "Just Watch The Fireworks," "For Me This Is Heaven," and "Lucky Denver Mint" all were played. Hell, the band even brought out "Call It In The Air," an old Static Prevails classic. It was rocktacular.
Even though the rest of the set was taken from the new album, this was definitely a show for the more than recent fans. I and many other longtime fans felt rewarded for our patience [and high ticket prices]. We poured our souls into singing the knife sharp lyrics of "No Sensitivity" as others around us stood befuddled, wondering when the band would play "The Middle." Sure enough, it closed out the band's set, and as they left the stage, chants of "JIMMY, JIMMY!" and rhythmic handclaps rang out over the auditorium. The band came back on to perform "My Sundown" [now only leaving "Your House" as the only song off their last album I've never heard live], "Goodbye Sky Harbor," and then a rousing rendition of "Sweetness." The crowd went nuts as soon as Jim uttered the word "sweetness" to introduce the tune. It was the perfect way to close out the concert.
Sure, merchandise was expensive. Sure the tickets were overpriced. Sure, bottles of water were 2 or 3 bucks. But in the grand scheme of things, this was one hell of a rock and roll show. As we poured out onto the street in euphoric puddles, we felt raindrops fall upon our caked-with-sweat scalps. I just looked up, smiled, and raised my hands above my head in a mock victory sign. Just like last year, I left the concert feeling reborn. Keep up the good work, boys.
[PS - Hi Maggie, Megan, Katie, and everyone else I hung out with!]