Third Eye Blind and Jimmy Eat World’s Summer Gods Tour comes to an end in the OC.
LOS ANGELES, CA- The Summer Gods Tour 2019 featuring Jimmy Eat World and Third Eye Blind as co-headliners offered up a huge dose of nostalgia and feel-good moments for the mostly Gen X crowd that piled into the Five Point Amphitheater this past weekend. The OC show marked the last stop of the tour and what better setting to close out a summer tour than the gorgeous Irvine venue. The sky was clear, weather perfect, and the grassy, picnic lounge area outside of the venue made you feel like you were attending a bbq party, or perhaps a reunion of sorts, as both headliners took me down memory lane with their old school jams.
Both Jimmy Eat World and Third Eye Blind have that one defining song that everyone recognizes ( The Middle and Semi-Charmed Life, respectively)— but neither are just one-hit wonders. Each band has had a string of successful songs, sold-out shows, and careers that span over 25 years – not something that many bands can boast. I do admit, when the announcement of this tour came out, I was a little uncertain how the turnout would be. It just didn’t seem like a pair that would normally be billed together, other than the fact that they both rose to prominence in the same era. Regardless, I knew it was a show I didn’t want to miss. I’ve been a huge fan of Jimmy Eat World’s since the early days, and as far as Third Eye Blind goes, it didn’t matter that they aren’t one of my favourite bands, there’s still something special about hearing mega hits from your youth performed live. I was certainly excited to take in all the feels of the night, and there was plenty.
I missed opening act Ra Ra Riot due to traffic (LA to OC- #traffuck) but I heard they were great. Luckily I made it right in time for my favourite Arizonian emo sweethearts. The stage set up was probably one of the biggest I’ve seen for them in all my years attending their shows, yet it was still very simple and straightforward. There were four huge industrial looking fans on the back wall, surrounded by LEDs and illuminated above them a huge “JIMMY EAT WORLD.” The industrial aesthetic was pleasing and seemed to suit the tone of the band perfectly. The boys took the stage, plugged their guitars in and got right down to business, opening with the hard-hitting banger Pain from 2004’s Futures album. The crowd immediately began rocking out. Lead singer Jim Adkins is so full of energy when he plays, it’s impossible not to follow suit. The rest of the band (guitarist Tom Linton, bassist Rick Burch, drummer Zach Lind and touring guitarist/keys RobinVining) also tear it up and I’m always in awe of how tight they are every single time. They are definitely one of those bands that sound just like their records, maybe even better, live.
They continued to rock the crowd for the rest of their fourteen song set, mostly focusing on songs from their two biggest albums, 2001’s Bleed American and 2004’s Futures. Those two albums hold a special place in my heart and take me back to some of the best times of my life- going to see the band countless times in concert, driving on road trips with friends, singing along, trying to harmonize (I’m sure we killed it). In fact, if I had to pick a band’s music to be the soundtrack to my life, it would- hands down- be Jimmy Eat World. But although the formerly mentioned albums are a couple of my favourites, 1999’s Clarity is still my number one. If I could marry an album, I’d be birthing baby Claritys (hmmm future child name?). It’s such a good record from start to finish and arguably the best emo album of all time. Unfortunately when you are on a “co-headling” tour and only allotted an hour to play, sacrifices have to be made. The only song played from Clarity was the brilliant “Lucky Denver Mint.” The set kicked ass, so I’m not mad but damn I would’ve loved to hear a few more gems off that album. Come to think of it, Clarity’s 20th anniversary was this year. Wow! I remember attending the 10th year anniversary at Club Nokia (now the Novo) with my besties and almost crying tears of joy to hear it played in its entirety…so um gentlemen, can you do us die-hards a solid and make the 20-year tour happen before the year ends? If not, I’m cool with a 21st-anniversary show! (Wink, wink)
Much like the lack of songs off of Clarity, “Sure and Certain” was the only song played off their latest album, 2016’s Integrity Blues. Bummer. That album also ranks up there with one of their best in my opinion, though sadly, I don’t think it got enough recognition or airplay. Adkins announced that the band is currently working on a brand new album before introducing their latest song called “Love Never.” If the song is any indication of what to expect, the record is going to be awesome. The song fits right in with their catalogue of bangers, complete with the catchy melodic sound that Jimmy Eat World is signature for.
The crowd was totally enthralled with their set, proving that there may have been as many Jimmy fans in attendance as Third Eye. The enthusiastic audience shouted the lyrics to “Bleed American,” sang it back (woah oh oh oh oh) to “Sweetness,” held their tears back and phone lights up for “Hear You Me” and was dancing on their feet for the anthemic “Praise Chorus.”
Praise Chorus is always the song I lose it most on when the opening notes begin, and it almost seems like the perfect song to end an amazing set with…until the most obvious finale chords kick in. “The Middle” closed the set and had the entire venue up and singing along “It just takes some time, Little girl you’re in the middle of the ride, Everything, everything will be just fine. Everything, everything will be alright (alright) !” And that sentiment truly resonated at that moment- dancing along in the sunset to my favourite band with my best friends, reminiscing and reliving our youth- everything (Everything) was indeed alright!
Third Eye Blind was up next and though, as mentioned before, the show was billed as a co-headlining tour, the dramatic production and opening to the 3EB set seemed to tell a different story. The elaborate staging made it pretty clear which of the two bands were dubbing themselves the “summer gods.” Stephan Jenkins and crew came out rockstar-ing harder than the simple Arizona lads before. The crowd screamed in anticipation as the band took the stage behind a sheer curtain. They opened with “Screamer” (the title track from their forthcoming album) behind the curtain, revealing only their silhouettes until the last chorus of the song when the curtain finally fell. Jenkins was still somewhat incognito, stalking the stage covered up with a hoodie that he kept pulling down, covering most of his face. They jumped right into another new song “The Kids Are Coming (to take you down)” and even though the crowd was not totally familiar with the new songs, they were still eagerly jumping around.
Jenkins ditched the hoodie to reveal a beanie emblazoned with “Wild Feminist.” The swooning fans approved. The third song into the set was a familiar one. The guitar intro to “Never Let You Go” triggered a frenzy and the first of many crowd sing-alongs of the night.
The 90-minute set was filled with all the hits and in between they played songs from their entire 5 album catalogue, including “Company of Strangers” from 2016’s We Are Drugs album, “Wounded,” from 1999’s Blue and Bonfire from 2009’s Ursa Major. Jenkins addressed the audience multiple times, thanking them for coming out despite the fact that there was not a new album out yet. “We are still selling out shows without having a new record out so thank you guys,” he said. I couldn’t tell if it was genuine sincerity or more of a humblebrag. Perhaps a bit of both. Either way, he wasn’t wrong. And besides, when a band has been on the scene for over two decades, most everyone is there for their favourite oldies anyway so no new album? Eh, no big deal.
Early in the night, Jenkins asked the crowd to stop and take a moment to say hi to each other, because “we are all in this together.” His attempt to unify the crowd was meant to be sincere and touching, but the way it played out came off a bit cheesy. Still, the crowd awkwardly obliged, looking at each other like “well let’s just get this over with” and said hello/high-fived each other. Kumbayaaaa!
There were also moments where Jenkins would talk, talk, talk. That was probably the one downside to the set. It’s nice to engage with your audience, but at some point, come on, we wanna hear what we came for. We didn’t come to a Ted Talk show. One person next to me even yelled out “Shut up and play” after he rambled on about something people stopped paying attention to and that was clearly the mutual consensus, as other fans laughed at the annoyed concert goer’s outburst.
The upside to the show was when the classics were played and watching people’s faces light up to hear songs that are probably significant to them. “Jumper” ignited the biggest crowd sing-along I’ve heard in a long time, Jenkins didn’t even have to sing if he didn’t want to. Hell, the band could’ve taken a break, the crowd was even singing along to the guitar riffs. “Motorcycle Drive By” was always one of my favourite songs of 3EB so I was happy that they played it. Jenkins told the crowd it was the one song that the record label hated and did not want to put on the album. He thanked the fans for embracing it and dedicated it to them. “How’s it Going to be” was also a song that elicited excitement.
But of course, everyone was ready for THAT song. “Semi-Charmed Life” was a song that was on the radio non-stop in the late ’90s. It’s a song that I imagine anyone would recognize. A song you either love or love to hate- totally overplayed throughout the years, yet as soon as it comes on you can’t help but nod and sing along to the “doot doot doots.”
I still don’t think the pairing of Jimmy Eat World and 3EB made total sense, but it was a hell of a fun show and as the lyrics of Praise Chorus say: “Stick around nostalgia won’t let you down!” Well, my 90’s rock-loving heart was not let down. Nostalgia for the win! Woooooo!