You know when everything seems to come together in perfect timing and you’re caught thinking about how a moment couldn’t possibly get any better, but you want it to be better? This was the experience of the entire first set of Jimmy Eat World’s Clarity X 10 show at the Trocadero last Wednesday. For that reason, I don’t think I’ll be able to accurately convey the experience. They simply played the album, and it was entirely expected, but it somehow made the connection to one of my favorite albums even deeper.
When Jim Adkins and company took the stage and began with the classic “Table for Glasses,” it felt like my heart was disassembling and simultaneously growing. I knew in that very first song, listening to Zach Lind’s slow unrushed beat, this was unlike any show I’ve been to before. I missed out on this tour when I was in middle school—heck, I didn’t even know about this band back then—and I’m almost glad. It wouldn’t have had any meaningful moments of my life connected to each song.
Moving on to “Lucky Denver Mint,” I was still in the photo pit snapping pictures. I took a moment to stop and observe what was going on around me. I was still mumbling the words, trying to be professional, and I heard a chorus of fans singing “Somewhere, I made a wish.” I turned to the stage and saw Rich Burch smile and nod in approval to Adkins. I don’t think they’d experienced a crowd who cared as much as they did in a while.
And it was inspiring, looking at the crowd. There were people who were clearly having their own personal moments with certain songs, and others who were surrendering to their raw emotions. I was one of the youngest people there, and it was personally gratifying to see people in their mid to late twenties starting up a circle pit for “Crush.” And it was reassuring to see Jim Adkins on stage, blowing out his vocals, and moving with tensed body language, swaying back and forth for everyone in attendance. I’ve been unsure about the direction Jimmy Eat World has gone in their past couple records, but this was undoubtedly sincere. Everyone was connected by just how fucking happy everyone was.
I could pick out almost any song as a defining moment to how life seems to come together, but the most impressive and dumbfounding moment was when they played “Goodbye Sky Harbor,” in the style of the album. It was played a little faster, but yes, that means it went on for at least ten minutes, looping and looping over part over part. At one point, Adkins put down his acoustic guitar and picked up a separate microphone to start his very own a capella section. I just laughed. There were so many nights where I fell asleep to this song, and I grew to appreciate the less pronounced intricacies of the song, which Adkins was putting in the forefront.
Jimmy Eat World left the stage waving goodbye, and I was content. It would have been bittersweet and perfect if it had ended there, but they came back on to play a few early b-sides (“What Would I Say to You Now,” “No Sensitivity,”), in addition to “23,” “Work,” “Pain,” and “Sweetness,” which are all fine songs… but felt like a detour moving away from a once-in-a-lifetime event to a show for diehard fans. I’m not going to complain. That was the second-best* show of my life, and I’ll be damned if it’s not the best of the 2009.
*Sigur Ros at the Tower Theater on their Takk…tour was the best show of my life
Photo by author.