PHOENIX — What comes to mind when you think of the 2000’s? Motorola RAZRs? MTV’s Pimp My Ride? Undoubtedly, your mind also went to the music that defined the decade: bands like Jimmy Eat World and Third Eye Blind. It might surprise you to learn that both of these groups are still going strong and loving every minute of it, as evidenced by their incredible performances at the Ak Chin Pavilion in Phoenix this past Wednesday evening.
Both bands are refreshing examples of groups that have not only outlasted their respective peaks of fame, but have continued going strong in spite of it. Jimmy Eat World playing timeless classics like “Sweetness”, “The Middle”, and “Hear You Me” to ear-piercing cheers and thundering applause is all the proof you need. Obvious musical and songwriting talents aside, a big reason for the longevity in Jimmy Eat World’s career is the sheer gratitude they express to their fans at nearly every show.
There are countless examples throughout musical history of artists who gain big heads from their fame but this band, and especially Jim Adkins, could not have been more humble, crediting their fans for helping them get to where they are now. About halfway through the set, Jim strapped on a beautifully shining acoustic guitar and as he was tuning for “Hear You Me” he warmly addressed the crowd: “I remember when we were sitting out on the lawn watching shows and dreaming about being on this stage. Now, here we are and it’s all thanks to you guys and your support.” This would become a common theme throughout the night as he so graciously engaged the audience and made them feel as welcome as they so clearly made him and the rest of the band feel in return.
Ra Ra Riot began the show with an uncharacteristically energetic set for an opening band; the crowd couldn’t get enough and the band definitely got the job done getting people out of their seats.
The stage chemistry and musicianship of each member shined through during key moments, like the crisp backing vocals of bassist, Mathieu Santos blending seamlessly with lead vocalist, Wes Miles. Guitarist, Milo Bonacci and his versatility with guitar FX pedals created mind-bending soundscapes of delayed and chorused chords, and even allowed him to smoothly recover from a brief tussle with some nasty feedback. Ra Ra Riot are entertainers in the truest sense of the word and are definitely one to watch out for.
Jimmy Eat World continued to amaze the audience by mixing in a pleasant blend of old and new songs, with the old songs sounding just as fresh as the new. It’s difficult to make a song like “The Middle”, released in 2001, not sound slightly dated when it appears in movies or TV shows for example, but live, this song takes on entirely new life, as those same familiar four power chords envelop you in pure nostalgic delight. It’s honestly incredible – a true testament to their abilities as a band to stand the test of time by continuously putting out timeless song after song.
Third Eye Blind closed out the night with a highly engaging set that the vast majority of fans never wanted to end. Lead singer/guitarist, Stephan Jenkins, displayed a level of energy and charisma not often seen in a 54-year-old man. The music keeps him young at heart, and the same can be said of his fans as they screamed every single word along with him.
Third Eye Blind effortlessly charged through songs like the latest collaborative effort with Alexis Krauss of Sleigh Bells, “Screamer”. This track has a harder modern rock vibe that they transition into deftly from their classic sound. Hearing a band continue to reinvent themselves is a sign that they don’t intend to give up on music anytime soon; which is good news for many.
Third Eye Blind also treated the crowd’s ears to a clever medley of songs “Back To Zero”, “Can You Take Me”, and “London”, strung together so well you’d think they were back to back on the same album. The band was obviously well-rehearsed, and executed each song down to the last screaming note. Playing songs from the first album like “Motorcycle Drive-by” and “Graduate” served as an endearing homage to their past, which acknowledges that they haven’t forgotten where they came from and how they arrived where they are today. This was a more understated approach to showing the fans gratitude: by treating them with more hidden gems on the early albums, which went over very well overall.
A more cynical observer might write off a joint tour between Jimmy Eat World and Third Eye Blind as an attempt to revive a dying genre; however this could not be further from the truth. Both bands are timeless examples of pop-rock bands of the early 2000’s that bring unique qualities to their music that only serves to guarantee their respective longevity. The “Summer Gods” tour is an aptly named one because these bands have successfully become immortalized through their music. And honestly, isn’t that what any band ultimately strives for?
Photographer: Rodrigo Izquierdo
Third Eye Blind, Jimmy Eat World, Ra Ra Riot – Ak-Chin Pavilion 7-31-19
Photography © Reagle Photography
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