Jimmy Eat World/Webster Hall/Nov. 8, 2004
I thought I’d be over it by now, but I’m still smarting from the election. Even though I’ve made public promises to be optimistic (and I do have my moments), I’m still sore and sad and mad and snippy. Thank god for the music.
In moments like these, I like nothing more than a lil’ jangle pop to put a snap to my step. For those born after, say, 1980, jangle pop (or jangulius populis) is the early bud of what later blossomed into radio-friendly alternative rock. Sprung from The Byrd’s jingle jangle morning (Mary Lou Lord later wrote an ode to that phrase), with just a few harmonies and some rattle and hum, jangle pop at its best is wildly optimistic yet defiantly angry. Starkly stubborn yet unapologetically vulnerable. Radically land-grabbing yet torn from the universal songbook. Lots of yets. Think REM’s “Radio Free Europe” with its insistent drumming urging on Stipe’s whine or Crowded House’s love poem “Something So Strong.”
One of today’s torchbearers of the jangle pop aesthetic is Arizona’s finest, Jimmy Eat World. Awful name, yes. But pretty, pretty songs. I needed to get a leg up from these sad times by seeing them live. Amy and I headed off to Webster Hall.
It was packed and Amy and I (being serious shortees) nudged ourselves in downstairs to the side. A pack of girls crammed up right on our asses and started giggling and doing a lot of up talk. “So, like, after class I went to the library? And it, was, like, empty?” I hate when girls do uptalk or speak Valley Girlese. It’s my own personal prejudice. There’s no way that you can sound smart while engaging in these activities. Even Kathleen Hanna. And I don’t buy that reclaiming the whatthefuck bullshit.
So, anyway, these girls are behind us and I think, “Great, they’re going to have inane conversations behind us the whole show.” But from the moment the band started with “Bleed American” through even much older material, these girls sang along, every word. Every word. And not in that self-conscious Dashboard Confessional audience way, but in a full-throttle spirit release way. And I loved them then, I really did.
Jimmy Eat World seem to be a play-by-the-book live band. Jim Adkins, the main singer and guitar player, is the energy force of it all (and his floppy, sweaty bangs just may be the fifth member of the group) as he jumps up and down and hunches his shoulders just so.
In a weird way, I got what I wanted from the show, but it wasn’t handed to me by JEW, necessarily. Yes, the meta moment when the band played “Praise Chorus,” (their homage to music that’s inspired them and includes snippets of other songs) while the audience sang back its own form of appreciation, that was part of it. But it was the little praise chorus behind me that lifted my spirits. Their energy and commitment was irrefutable. And that’s the least I can bring to the party.