BY JESS BECK | Go Venue Magazine
Jimmy Eat World is a band that I always look forward to covering. Having moved from Nebraska to Arizona, it’s good to still catch these local shows.
And by “local” I mean a band who has sold close to 2 million albums worldwide, has had several hits in the Billboard Top 10, and also has received nominations for stuff like “best music video.”
No big deal.
But the boys from Mesa, Arizona (hey…that’s where I live now! Maybe…let’s be friends?) put on an incredible show for their hometown on Friday, October 28, 2022, at the Arizona Financial Theatre. The venue itself was fuller than it has been in previous shows, which is impressive considering the Phoenix Metro had a trio of excellent shows that night, including I Prevail down the street and A.F.I. just a few miles down. However, when you’re a hometown hero – you know the fans will always show up in droves to come and see you.
Opening this FIVE act show was a singer/songwriter Sydney Sprague who is also now a Phoenix resident. We had a LOT of Phoenix residents at the show this evening, so maybe a festival is in order? If it happens, I’m taking the credit for an Arizona local band scene festival.
At any rate, Sydney has a powerful vocal range and an excellent voice. After a few technical hang-ups (the show must go on!), they found their groove and the early comers got treated to quite an impressive performance. As far as Phoenix locals go, she was a great fit for this bill, as her style compliments Jimmy Eat World quite nicely. It’s like easier listening with an edge. Coffee house lyrics with a rock beat. She’s great. Stream her shit everywhere. Notable tracks included “Steve,” “Refuse to Die,” and “Think Nothing.”
Up next was PVRIS (pronounced “Paris” but I guess the “A” is inverted or something? Maybe it’s an Eiffel Tower reference? I have no idea, I’m too old for this shit), and this group wasn’t here to fuck around. You could tell by her business suit that she meant business, and they absolutely LAID IT DOWN on that stage. It quickly turned from a rock café type of night to a rager out of nowhere. The energy that singer/producer/songwriter/multi-instrumentalist Lyndsey Gunnulfsen brought was unrivaled, and I love it when you can feel the passion radiating off a performer.
They too, however, had some power issues during their set, but like her fellow musician Sydney, they recovered quite well and carried on with the show. If you get a chance to catch this act on the rest of the tour, do so. Or see them wherever you can. They are one of the most energetic, fun, and powerful acts that I have seen this summer, and combining electronica with power lyrics and a solid beat? Sign me up for that shit all day.
Next to the stage was a little band known as Thursday (even though they were playing on a Friday, I forgive them). Hailing from New Jersey, this act is an absolute staple for any emo-scene kid. They were part of a national tragedy in 2013 when they announced an indefinite hiatus that sent so many of us into a musical black hole. But, in 2016 (you know…back when Harame was still alive) they announced that they were getting back together, and then suddenly all was right with the world.
Vocalist Geoff Rickly came out blazing, fueled by the energy of having just played the When We Were Young Fest this same week. “You know,” he told the audience. “The first time we ever met Jimmy Eat World, we were all mud wrestling, and they saw us and I thought, ‘Shit, we’re never gonna play with those guys,’ but here we are!”
The crowd loved it. They then mentioned to the audience that they were going to play “a bunch of old shit,” which made the crowd lose their shit even more. Rickly might also have been the most mobile on the stage out of all the acts that were there that evening. You could really tell that he wanted to be there by the smirks and winks back to the crowd. And the way they performed, it was like they never left. They might have been a band for over 20 years now, but you’d never convince the kids in the band of that fact. They’re all still 16 at heart. Notable Thursday bangers included “Cross Out The Eyes,” “Standing On The Edge Of Summer,” and “War All The Time.”
Co-headlining this show was The Maine, from Tempe, Arizona. So you know…another local act (see what I mean about the festival idea? I think I’m on to something). They came out with such a force, and it was tangible that a lot of the people in the audience were there for them, as you could hear the lyrics being screamed back to the stage. They opened with having “Sweet Caroline” blasted through the speakers, which became a segway into their first track, “Sticky.” It was rather clever as the two work so well together.
During the performance, vocalist John O’Callaghan fist bumped with the fans in the front row, and at one moment became so enraptured by the performance that he had a fan toss him their hat, and he wore it for a portion of a song to the fan’s complete delight (they can never get rid of that hat now). You could tell that this was really an audience that resonated with this hometown hero collective. They pack a lot of energy into their performance, and would easily rival Thursday for the amount of movement on stage at any given moment. If you ever get the chance to see them live – you won’t be disappointed. Under the neon marquee of their namesake, everything will be alright for at least an hour. Notable tracks included “Dirty, Pretty, Beautiful,” “Loved You A Little,” and “Black Butterflies and Déjà vu.”
Lastly, but certainly not least, were the hometown favorites Jimmy Eat World. It’s always a treat to see a band that’s had the success that they have grace the stage with such grace and humility. They might be a little more stringent on some things these days, but you could tell that they were so thankful for everyone who came out on this chilly Friday evening in Phoenix to come and see them perform not only some of their new material, but their megalithic hits.
Vocalist James Adkins didn’t waste any time as they hammered right into Futures, which is arguably one of their most successful tracks in their history (but really that whole album was a banger, so…just listen to the whole thing). Jimmy Eat World always seems to carry such a poise and refinement to their performances. This is the second time I’ve had the pleasure to cover these fellas, and in 2019 I caught them on tour in Lincoln, NE, and while the stage décor has changed over the years, their commitment to delivering a great show has not.
They played through several of their better known tracks, including “Bleed American,” “Pain,” and “Work,” and even included some newer material that went over really well. They ended the evening on “The Middle” from their 2001 breakout album, “Bleed American,” which has now sold them a staggering 1.2 million copies, and still remains one of my all-time favorite records.
“I remember seeing these guys at house shows,” said one attendee.
And maybe that’s the moral of the story. Jimmy Eat World has, to some extent…eaten the world. But they didn’t do it in a vacuum. They were a local band at one point. So get out there and continue to support your local artists like you do these big guys, because without local talent, there would be no music.
As always, a big thank you to the Arizona Financial Theatre staff for working around the clock to ensure the building was clean and that the patrons were safe. Remember to keep being excellent to each other and to keep wearing deodorant to your concerts. Until next time, friends! We’ll see ya at the next show!
Jimmy Eat World