Our friend Ashley Harris, who was the local music director at Arizona State’s The Blaze 1260 AM and now lives in the Big Apple working in the music industry, was in attendance at Terminal 5 in New York for the first date of Jimmy Eat World’s Clarity x 10 tour, which winds down with a homecoming at Marquee Theatre in Tempe on March 7. Read Ashley’s review of the show after the jump and see more of her pictures here.
A few years ago I read a book called Nothing Feels Good: Punk Rock, Teenagers, and Emo by Andy Greenwald that discussed the sociological aspects of the emo culture, why it was and where it came, at the earliest stage of the term. It was all pretty revolutionary back then, citing only social network sites like makeoutclub.com and livejournal.com in a pre-MySpace world. Despite the fact that the book did a lot of Dashboard Confessional ass kissing, it also investigated the albums that shaped that culture, interviewing bands that “wouldn’t have been a band” without these. Some artists include Rites of Spring, Jawbreaker and The Promise Ring, and amongst dissecting New Jersey basement shows, is an entire chapter on Jimmy Eat World.
What was emo then and what was emo now is still up for discussion, but one thing is for sure : Jimmy Eat World’s 1999 release Clarity left a mark on the genre, its fans and its bands alike. A cult classic, the album quietly garnered attention for the band before the explosion that was Bleed American and their massive hit single, The Middle. Many JEW fans who were turned off by their mainstream success still reference Clarity. To celebrate 10 years since the album’s release, the Arizona natives are doing a 10-night run of what they are calling the “Clarity x 10 Tour,” performing the album in its entirety, front to back, beginning on the exact 10th anniversary of its release at Terminal 5 in New York City on Feb. 23rd.
As a recent New York transplant from Arizona, I rushed at the chance to see one of my favorite local bands play this kind of tour in my new city, and clearly I wasn’t the only one. The show sold out in what I heard was a matter of minutes online. We got to the venue before doors and the line was wrapped up and down the street on one of the coldest days of the year, but quickly dispersed into the multi-level venue. It wasn’t long until fellow Arizona band Reubens Accomplice took the stage (fun trivia: Reubens opened for JEW at their release show and JEW frontman Jim Adkins produced their album The Bull, The Balloon, and The Family. The last leg of this short tour features No Knife, which was part of the original Clarity tour). Reubens has traditionally carried well with Jimmy fans and worked seamlessly over a very anxious crowd. This is a band that plays very rarely in Phoenix but continues to gain popularity through some incredibly solid pop songs. Alongside playing with a new drummer, Patrick from Limbeck accompanied them on pedal steel (and yes, wore his own band’s sweatshirt). They recently finished recording and will hopefully get their tour chops wet through this in order to be exposed to more peopl , because it’s a band that needs to be heard.
After Reubens’ set, there was about a half-hour changeover before JEW. It was wall-to-wall people on every level, making even the simplest bathroom run a major task. Soon the house music faded and the familiar tone of the beginning of Table for Glasses began as the backdrop fell to what reminded me of the sun stripes on the Arizona flag. Obviously, those who have heard the album know the order of the songs, and they played them in succession almost identically to how they would play straight through on the album, all the way down to the length of the song breaks. Although Adkins mentioned that the songs were “no surprise,” they were, however, well executed. The band took a lot of risk in playing through everyone’s memories, either reinventing the songs entirely or running the risk of disappointing fans if “they fall out from your hands” didn’t have the same voice crack as the album version of A Sunday. This is clearly a band that knows its audience and kept true to the record, all the way down to the very last layer of the instrumental outro of Goodbye Sky Harbor, sung directly by a dancing Jim Adkins. Guitarist Tom Linton sang his songs, and the rest of the songs were bolstered by booming sea of voices singing along. Even the hippest hipster from Brooklyn could find themselves yelling “FAAAALLLINNG yeahh!” over the balcony during Crush or tearing up a little singing “Merry Christmas, baby.”
The applause was continuous and genuine, which these days aren’t always mutually exclusive. There was a running energy as they finished Goodbye Sky Harbor, an ironic buildup for what is meant to be an outro. While I doubt they would have ever mixed it up, Clarity is one such album that has to be listened to in order, the way it was intended to be, and it was great that they knew that, which resulted in one of the best comprehensive performances I’ve seen them play.
After a very brief break, the band returned to continue their set with what I felt was a “hit list” of their catalog. This being the 10th time I’ve seen them, I’d compare the encore to the kind of set they’d play while opening at an arena tour (such as Green Day). I can understand why they went that route after spending the beginning of the set on an older disc. You can’t alienate the fans that found the band through their commercial hits, and even the most diehard of fans who still dances around in their room to that song. They did, however, begin with two b-sides that appeared on split 7-inches, beginning with What I Would Say to You Now and moving into No Sensitivity (my all-time favorite Jimmy song, and the reason I started listening to them). It fit well with the throwback aspect of the night, but was quickly shifted to newer tunes, including their second single off Futures, Work, and its single predecessor Pain. Before the next song Adkins commented that the song was “actually a joke … a joke on me” and jumped into the familiar riff of The Middle. After the thank yous and goodnights, they jumped into the audience sing-a-long song Sweetness, a song that has become a familiar last song for the band, at least when I’ve seen JEW play. Just shy of 10:40 p.m., they finished up the song and after a quick picture for Twitter were off the stage. Most definitely would have liked a longer encore (there was time!), but clearly this band knew what it came for, and I know I paid to hear Clarity. I did find it interesting though that there was not one song from Chase This Light, their newest release.
Ten years later and this band brought out every level of Jimmy fan onto one playing field. People were reminded why they fell in love 10 years ago and why this band still sustains to this day. There was no big corporate sponsor, no scheme, just a tour from a band that still loves playing its songs, even the old ones. They’ve remained true to everything they started with, including ending this tour in Tempe, Ariz. For New York, the crowd behaved and there was an unmatched energy in the entire space. There was something so attainable about Clarity at the time and to this day, and 3,000 people singing at the top of their lungs is a testament to the profound impact that album and this band has made.
Table for Glasses
Lucky Denver Mint
Your New Aesthetic
Believe in What You Want
Just Watch the Fireworks
For Me This is Heaven
Goodbye Sky Harbor
What I Would Say to You Now