As mentioned previously, I attended the Jimmy Eat World and David Bazan show at 40 Watt in Athens last night. First of all, the drive was fairly miserable as it rained most of the time and the 285-85 junction in Atlanta is insane. Thankfully I had plenty of time to get there and my two mix CDs to listen to (detailed on yesterday's blog entry).
I got there a little late due to a great dinner. As we walked in there were "NO PHOTOGRAPHY" signs posted everywhere, which I found to be a little strange. I had my FlipCam in my pocket and my digital SLR camera under my jacket. More on that later, but as you can see I did take photos (on Flickr) and get two videos (on YouTube).
IMG_8630, originally uploaded by drenchedecent.
We missed about half of David Bazan's set. As I walked in he was finishing an unrecognized song. Then he headed right in to "Criticism As Inspiration", which got me excited. Then he played "Foregone Conclusions", a rockin' version of "Big Trucks" and finished with "Bands With Managers." The friend I attended the show with commented, "That is some slow rock." I laughed and agreed. I think "Bands with Managers" was even slower than the tempo on Achilles Heel. Very few musicians can play slow well, because there is much less room for error.
I didn't think about this much beforehand, but Bazan and Jimmy Eat World are a strange pairing. Bazan's music is very simple and laid-back, while Jimmy Eat World's is so high-energy and loud. I assume Zach Lind, Jimmy Eat World's drummer, asked Bazan to come on the tour as he is a big fan. Despite the contrast, I think there is an overlap in the fanbase, and the crowd made up of 100% Jimmy Eat World fans was very attentive and supportive on Bazan's music.
Jimmy Eat World was relentless. As soon as they stepped foot on the stage they plowed through their set effortlessly. They are extraordinarily tight and full of energy. I didn't write down the set-list at the time, but I think I remember all of it. This will be slightly out of order:
My Best Theory
Coffee and Cigarettes
Get It Faster
For Me This is Heaven (video from show, not by me)
Action Needs an Audience
Hear You Me
Goodbye Sky Harbor
IMG_8614, originally uploaded by drenchedecent.
Overall I was very impressed. I had moderate expectations, but the band sounded great. They rocked harder than I would have imagined. I had only seen them once previously, at a live 99X in-studio taping in 2001. I won tickets, and they only allowed 50 people in. Because it was such a controlled environment the band was pretty reserved, and they only played 5 songs. Thanks to Google, I just found all the details of that show including a free download.
Courtney Marie Andrews is a huge addition to the band's live show. Her background (and sometimes lead) vocals add terrific harmonies and her keyboard playing is also nice. The songs from Invented really can't be played without her, as well as "Hear You Me". But then her vocals on other songs like "For Me This Is Heaven" and "Sweetness" also took those songs to another level.
The biggest surprise from the show were the effects on Jim's vocals. Honestly I was shocked by them. His voice has always sounded pretty clear on all the albums, but last night they were run through all kinds of effects. At times I found it a little distracting, and made him sound much more nasal than he really is. My friend thought it was cool and added a lot to the live show. He didn't use them on all the songs, and at times they provided an intense echo. Speaking of effects, they were awesome on "Goodbye Sky Harbor." The original version of this song is of course 16 minutes, the length of an analog tape. I have heard live versions that were only 5 minutes or so, cutting off the elaborate ending. Well, it didn't last 16 minutes last night, but it did last 8 or 9. Jim put down his acoustic guitar after four minutes or so, then spent 2 or 3 minutes layering vocal effects. It was very, very similar to the original sound on Clarity. I at first thought he was using a pedal on stage, but my friend seemed to think the guy in the sound booth was recording the vocal parts to overdub. Either way, it was impressive.
Lastly, going back to the 40 Watt's photo policy. A decade ago it was fairly common to go to concerts where cameras were not allowed. But it has been years since I have attended a concert where the venue cared. It is impossible to stop in the smart-phone age. While bringing my cameras in, I considered not using them. It became apparent quickly though that half the crowd intended to capture the show in one form another, which is not surprising considering the average phone can take video and photos. I didn't bring my cameras out often, but I did get a few good shots. Most are blurry because of (1) a lack of light (2) my distance from the stage and (3) rushing myself out of fear I might get kicked out of the venue. I got one full-song video and another partial. On the second one I had a bouncer tap me on the shoulder and ask me to put the FlipCam away. I considered following him and asking him why he didn't stop they other countless people filming all the songs on their iPhones, but he was bigger than me. :)
My final thoughts regarding the show have to do with the how the different albums sounded live. Jimmy Eat World has six LPs, and they played multiple songs from five of them. I was most impressed with the Futures songs, they sounded pretty incredible. And I thought the Chase This Light songs were by far the weakest. That said, after the show here is how I would rank each of the albums overall, and in parenthesis how many songs were played from each last night:
1. Clarity (3. Easily my favorite Jimmy Eat World album and that will never change)
2. Futures (4. Sometimes this ranks at #3, but after last night, it got bumped up)
3. Bleed American (5. I assume this is most people's favorite)
4. Invented (5. This album has only been out a few months, it potentially could move as high as #2 long-term)
5. Static Prevails (0. Anyone know the last time they have played a song from this album in concert?)
6. Chase This Light (2. Only really love two songs on this album, and they didn't play either)