Longform

Brave New World

Page 6 of 9

It was with those ideas in mind that Gersh and partner John Silva began courting the band earlier this year. Even though the group was initially wary of working with Gersh -- a man they had demonized as one of the culprits behind their mistreatment at Capitol -- the lure of having the team responsible for some of rock's most important artists was simply too good to pass up.

"[Gersh and Silva] make their bands tons of money," says Lind of the duo responsible for helping shape the fortunes of everyone from Nirvana and the Beastie Boys to Beck and Sonic Youth. "But they also make sure that their bands can have careers beyond one song or one album. That's a really, really hard thing to do and they've done it over and over."

With G.A.S. on board and a strong industry buzz surrounding Bleed American, a minor bidding war for the band's services erupted. The ultimate bit of vindication came when Capitol Records begged for a meeting. The session never happened; the group demanded their old label relinquish the rights to Static and Clarity merely as a price tag to speak with them.

After being wooed by nearly every pony-tailed A&R man in the business, the band ended up with its original suitor, DreamWorks exec Luke Wood.

Wood, a onetime publicist who also worked with Nirvana and signed Elliot Smith, had closely monitored the growth of the band during the 18 months it had been on its own. More important, he seized on the tremendous potential in Bleed American.

"Those songs are looking for a large audience," he says. "When you hear [Bleed American], the record just shouts at you, 'Sign me!'" Which is exactly what DreamWorks did, inking Jimmy Eat World to a multi-album, multimillion-dollar deal in April -- a huge turnaround for a band scraping together pennies to buy studio time a few months earlier.

Ultimately, the decision to sign with DreamWorks was taken with an eye toward the band's long-term career prospects. Unlike most major labels, DreamWorks is a privately owned company -- in this case the proprietors include Steven Spielberg and David Geffen -- that's not slave to the quarterly earnings mentality of a publicly held corporation like Capitol/EMI. It's something that bodes well for Jimmy Eat World, a group that will need the patience of an understanding label parent to grow into its full potential. Aiding in this cause is the band's indie cred and status as critics' darlings -- two elements that should help them outlast faster-selling, but ultimately shtick-driven, contemporaries.

Given the mayhem surrounding the band's Glass House shows, you would think Jimmy Eat World had already achieved superstar status. Outside the venue, scalpers are charging three and four times the face value for tickets; a line of patrons snakes around the block several hours before showtime.



Backstage it's a mob scene as friends, family, well-wishers, industry types and hangers-on all gather to kibitz in cramped quarters.

By the time the band takes the stage just after 9, the packed, un-air-conditioned Glass House is like a sauna. When the band opens with an extended guitar vamp that introduces "Bleed American," the crowd explodes in a heated state of frenzy.

The scantily clad nubiles at the foot of the stage cast hungry gazes at Burch, who teases them with a slow, subtle bass grind. Linton, too, sheds his shy, retiring persona, playing with a self-assured ease that seems to pour from his hands. Atop a riser, Lind holds everything down with a steady brace of percussion.

As a front man, Adkins performs with enough intensity to strip paint -- his vocals hurling like fiery shrapnel from the stage. After a few songs, his neatly held thatch of hair unfurls into a moppish mess of black; his dark shirt is heavy, leadened with sweat.



Still, the largest cheers of the night are reserved for Linton when he takes the mike to sing "Blister" -- another shoulda-been hit off of Clarity. As the crowd shouts along to the punkish romp, one thing becomes abundantly clear: If Burch is the band's face, Adkins its heart and Lind its mind, then Linton is most assuredly its soul.

Mid-set finds the group pulling out acoustic instruments for a clutch of quieter tunes. Adkins' gently articulated tales of confusion, disaffection and unrequited love have the audience in a state of rapt, adoring attention.

Then during the harsh, surging "Get It Faster," the teeming mosh pit seems to engulf the whole floor. By the time the band encores with "Lucky Denver Mint," crowd-surfers begin to shoot up from the audience like geysers.

When it's all over, two blond girls, no more than 15, cling to each other as they emerge from the mass of bodies. The giddy pair -- faces stained with sweat and tears -- look as if they've just come from a teenage tent revival.

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Bob Mehr
Contact: Bob Mehr