JIMMY EAT WORLD
Live at The Depot
Salt Lake City, UT
September 11, 2018
Photos by Julie Pavlacka
Review by Kevin Jewkes
Tuesday night in Utah / 21+ show / Over by 10:30. That’s what it is to be a Jimmy Eat World fan these days. I’ve seen enough Jimmy Eat World concerts in the last 18 years to know certain things to be true. First, they don’t mail it in. Every night Jim Adkins will be sporting a button up short sleeve dark colored shirt, inevitably drenched with sweat by mid-set. Second, the band will be tight – from instrumentation to vocals. Third, they’ll end the show with The Middle. Sept 11th at The Depot in Salt Lake City was no exception. With a catalog of 9 studio albums and over 100 songs released, there’s plenty of ‘hits’ to work from, and 22 songs over 90 minutes makes the ticket well worth the price of admission.
The band hit it big in 2001 with their certified platinum release Bleed American followed by their arguably “cult classic” follow up Futures. So it comes as no surprise the setlist is 40% comprised of those two albums. Adkins is often asked what it’s like to have to play the same hit songs from an album 17 years old, and he never hesitates to talk about what an honor it is to hear a sold out venue sing those songs back to him (It’s honestly quite amazing to see both band and audience so in sync). Adkins embraces the hits, and that’s obvious in the setlist, which completely ignores the bands 2010 release Invented – a glaring omission – as well as any deep cuts a fan might be hoping to hear. If those are the tracks you’re looking for, you’re best to keep an eye out for a Jim Adkins solo show as odds of hearing anything ‘deep’ at a current Jimmy Eat World show are becoming slim.
Back to Tuesday night: The band opened with “Sure and Certain” off their latest release, Integrity Blues, followed by “I Will Steal You Back” – the only track from 2013’s Damage. The scene is familiar, with a stage setup mirroring what they’ve used for the last few years: street lamps on each corner of the stage, and a large banner behind the band. It’s a comfortable setting, and works quite well for the band, however you’ll find something missing: the all-important amplifiers. Over the last few years, the band has made the decision to leave the tubes at home, and are running all guitars, bass, and keys through the PA system. While this has its advantages, (like your ears aren’t ringing after the show, lower travel/setup costs, more audio consistency from venue-to-venue), that nice warm hug that envelops you at a live show is painfully missing. This might be an issue for passionate concert goers who embrace the “live” aspect of music. That said, most fans going for the ‘hits’ likely won’t notice, as they are getting what they are used to: a radio-like experience. However, the deepest cut of the night “Pass the Baby” loses a large part of its ambiance during the hard-rock breakdown that crescendos the second half of the song – when the amps and reverb should be shaking the room. The passion of the performance had a hard time transitioning from stage to fan. While the band was performing intensely, audience members used the time to check their social media, grab a drink, or hit the restroom.
While this seems all doom and gloom, I can’t emphasize enough how tight the songs sound, and that the setlist delivers what are clearly the most popular songs. One critique of the setlist would be swapping “A Praise Chorus” from the first song of the encore with “Sure and Certain” as the set opener. A glance at tags from The Depot on social media will display how many fans are on their feet, on the floor, and good to go in anticipation of the event. Opening with the one of the most popular non-singles would really set the crowd off, while moving the more recent song into a position that could help fans embrace the newer material.
While I think playing more deep tracks from the bands lesser selling albums would help drive a bigger interest by bringing them to life; the formula they’ve embraced clearly works. The venue was sold out, the merch line was filled, and fans were happy. The great part about Jimmy Eat World is that all of their music is so sincere, and honestly, most fans are pretty awesome people. If you’re expecting deep cuts, save your money and find a city Jim is playing solo – but if it’s a solid night of great songs with good people, don’t miss the band on any of their upcoming tour dates.