Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Jimmy Eat World @ Balai Kartini, Jakarta (03/04/2011)

My first introduction to Jimmy Eat World was that massive top-40 hit, "The Middle" which apparently reached #5 on the Billboard Top 100 at some point. The video of the song was being played at least 5 times a day on MTV when i was 15-16 that it's hard to miss it. It's the one where people having pool party in their underwear, just in case your memory failed you.

Looking back at it, It's funny to think that Jimmy Eat World who wrote countless numbers of singles, have won awards from the music industry and have toured with every single "big" rock act out there (Foo Fighters, Green Day, etc etc, you get the picture) is the same band who put out splits with Christie Front Drive, Jejune and Mineral and probably did countless basement shows back in the day.

Jimmy Eat World started by putting out a slew of demos and EPs dated back to 1993 and 1994. Their sound is still very much straight forward punk-rock at this point, albeit leaning towards more the melodic side of the spectrum. The production is rough and the music isn't anywhere as interesting as their later stuff, but the catchiness and the melodies are there. Soon after, they got picked up by Capitol Records where they put out their first major label offering Static Prevails in 1996.

Static Prevails is considered to be the start of good things for Jimmy Eat World. Along with all advantages that comes with being on major label, the band's songwriting has improved ten folds at this point. The band's style of mid tempo punk-rock with huge anthemic choruses and soft-loud dynamics is starting to take shape here. The album also exposes the band's ability to write softer, poppier songs such as "Claire" and "Caveman" which undoubtfuly influenced by bands like Mineral, Sunny Day Real Estate, etc.

Their follow up album, Clarity is what i would consider to be Jimmy Eat World's magnum opus, the "holy grail" of their discography. The band went for a "cleaner" route on this album, resulting in a more polished alternative-rock sound with hooks bigger than the entire state of Texas. Clarity also marks the start of Jim Adkins as the band's main singer with Tom providing backing vocals instead of the other way around like it had been previous to the album. And to be honest, Jim does have stronger vocals than Tom's. Jim's voice has more range and therefore works better with the direction the band has taken, musically.

Lyrically, Clarity is also worth mentioning. The simplicity and yet brutally-honest look on (presumably) male adolescence problems without being too angsty or whiny is their main recipe, and oh they used it so well. It's hard not to revisit those adolescence struggles and feelings that Clarity manage to evoke intensely every time it's on . It's almost as if every feeling is distorted and being put into words, turning Clarity into an emotional roller coaster ride for those who like to hold on to their youth memories.

Clarity also sees the band usage of various instruments to compliment their song arrangements, such as synths, drum machines, violins, cellos and a few others. The last track on the album "Goodbye Sky Harbor" clocks at 16 minutes and sees them on their more adventurous side. The song twist and turns itself into a repetitive drum machined, guitars and vocals layered passages and it's certainly quite a treat to see them play this song live (see videos below).

Next up, is what i believe their most selling album up-to-date, titled Bleed American in which sees them signed with Dreamworks. The singles from this album such as "The Middle", "A Praise Chorus" and "Sweetness" enjoyed a quite significant amount of airplay on MTV and radio stations. These songs are among fans' favorite due their sing-along-able qualities. Although they are good songs, i feel like the lyrics on Bleed American for the most part aren't up to par with their previous efforts. The album is also somewhat overproduced and the singles were definitely overplayed. It's a step on the wrong direction for me, personally.

Thankfully, Futures released in 2004, revitalized my faith in the band. It's somewhat a combination of Clarity songwriting and Bleed American style of heavier songs and production. The music and lyrics are also more mature and "darker" which i find to be really endearing. As far as their more commercial output goes, Futures is better than Bleed American as an album. It has more variety, it's less cheesy and the lyrics are definitely a huge step up in quality. "Kill" and "23" are some of the best songs they've written.

It pains me to say, however that Futures is actually the last Jimmy Eat World record worth listening to, in my opinion. I gave Chase This Light and Invented a fair chance, but they just didn't do it for me. You can tell it's still the same band, but the songs are just dull and sounds uninspired. At this point, they're just another top 40 pop-rock band to me.

Following up a highly successful sold out Clarity tour, in which the band play Clarity in its entirety, they finally decided to hit up Indonesia as part of their SEA conquest. Well, i went and i can definitely say it was worth spending money just for witnessing "Goodbye Sky Harbour" alone. It was one of the best shows i've been to (and i've been to tons of shows). The performance was flawless, the sound was crystal clear, everything was on point. The only complaint i have would be the number of new songs they played and that there weren't enough Clarity material and not a single song off of Static Prevails. Oh well. They did, however play almost every single of their more popular songs and it was great night overall.

Yup, i took videos.

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