Jimmy Eat World
Paramount Theatre, Casa Grande, Arizona
Thursday, May 9, 2013
Jimmy Eat World's Arizona tour turned out to be excellent news for local fans of the band, who get a belated chance to see them in the kind of venues they played before their national breakout more than a decade ago. The group is now more than halfway through its tour, which stops in venues in smaller towns such Yuma, Flagstaff, and Sierra Vista. The remaining tour dates are sold out, but given the intimacy of Thursday night's show, buying a ticket from a reseller would absolutely be worth it. See also: Jimmy Eat World Releases New Song, Announces Arizona Tour Dates (Basically Everywhere but Phoenix and Tucson)
From what I could tell, the Casa Grande show had a good mix of Phoenicians and locals. I haven't ventured too far beyond gas stations on my way to Tucson, so I decided to explore the town a bit before the show to see if I could find some culture beyond the mass of chain stores. I made my way to Coolidge to check out the Casa Grande ruins, which closed at 5, but the drive was nice. After passing a Macayos, BoSa Donuts, and a Filiberto's and getting discouraged with Yelp reviews of local restaurants, which seemed to hover around two stars or three, I had dinner at a random Chinese restaurant. The popular tip -- "It's Chinese food in Casa Grande. What do you expect?" -- seems about right.
After dinner, I made my way to the venue, which is an independent movie theater with an old-time marquee dedicated to Jimmy Eat World. The venue held maybe 200 or 250 people, making it the smallest Jimmy Eat World show I have ever seen. The legendary Nita's Hideaway shows were a little bit before my time, but I can imagine that Thursday night's show played out a little something like that.
Opening with "I Will Steal You Back," the lead single from Damage, which is due out in June, the band fed off the energy of its intimate crowd.
After performing "Work," singer/guitarist Jim Adkins said it was the band's first time playing in Casa Grande and discussed the pronunciation of the town. "I got a note from a local that it's Casa Grand. You say Casa Grand-ay if you're trying really hard to fit in," he said to some laughs.
The band played four new songs, including "I Will Steal You Back" and "Damage," which are available on Spotify. Most of the new material sounds similar to Jimmy Eat World's tone on Invented and Chase This Light with the notable exception of "Book of Love," which describes an old relationship gone wrong. The new songs have a common theme of lost love, which is kind of funny given that Adkins apparently is happily married. We can't complain, though; he's still a great songwriter.
Robin Vining of Sweetbleeders, Colorstore, and Minibosses joined in on synths and backup vocals. Adkins explained: "Robin plays in just about every band in Phoenix. We felt left out, so we stole him." Vining added a bit more synth to "The Middle," providing a new take on the song.
Not surprisingly, songs from Bleed American and Clarity were among the best received. The band performed "Bleed American" and "A Praise Chorus" back-to-back, without a doubt stirring up some feelings of nostalgia. Highlights included "Blister," "Lucky Denver Mint," and a shortened "Goodbye Sky Harbor," which continues to sound absolutely stunning live all these years later.
Jimmy Eat World closed with "The Middle" and "Sweetness," continuing to play as a fan got up on stage and jumped up and down. At a show this small, neither security nor the band seemed to mind; in fact, Adkins gave him a high five at the end of the set.
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Setlist: I Will Steal You Back (new) Big Casino My Best Theory Work Futures Let It Happen Hear You Me Damage (new) Heart Is Hard to Find Book of Love (new) Appreciation (new) Bleed American A Praise Chorus Lucky Denver Mint Please Say No Blister Pain Goodbye Sky Harbor The Middle Sweetness
Critic's Notebook: Last Night: Jimmy Eat World at Paramount Theatre in Casa Grande. Personal Bias: I don't mind driving an hour to see Jimmy Eat World play a super-intimate set. The Crowd: Some of the biggest Jimmy Eat World fans you'll meet. That degree of crowd anticipation is rare. Overheard in the Crowd: "Fuck authority!" as the band introduced "Goodbye Sky Harbor." One More Thing: "Goodbye Sky Harbor" and "Hear You Me" sounded even better on my drive home, with the windows rolled down.