Sunday, March 29, 2009

my skeptic sight

I should've been in bed an hour or two ago but when I got home for the evening I found myself at, downloading Jimmy Eat World b-sides from Futures and Chase This Light.

I think I was in 8th grade when I heard JEW (that's how you abbreviate Jimmy Eat World -- I'm not being antisemitic, I'm promise). My older brother Spencer bought a pair of Doc Marten's (after all, it was the 90s, so why not?) and it came with a Capitol Records CD sampler. Jimmy Eat World's "Call It in the Air" was featured on said sampler. As a young junior high schooler I remember hearing talk of Jimmy Eat World, how they were a popular local band, how a few of them had attended the local high school, etc. I was anxious to check them out.

I put my brother's CD sampler in my Discman (this thing was legit!) and punched the track button till I heard the soon-to-be-familiar feedback swell of "Call It in the Air". Through pummeled power chords I heard a raspy Jim Adkins sing, "Leave home today / Escape your region" (I think that's what he sings, he's so hard to understand on that song). I instantly felt an aching yet compelling nostalgia that I hadn't felt since I heard "My Name is Jonas" for the first time; frankly, it frightened me. You see, at the time -- and throughout most of my junior and senior high school experience -- I was obsessed with Weezer. And any other band capable of evoking a feeling that I had only previously felt with Weezer was clearly a threat. I mean, think about it, if Jimmy Eat World became my new favorite band, then Weezer wouldn't be my favorite band anymore. Yeah, it seems silly now, but this is a legitimate concern to any 8th grader.

In the back of my mind and in my brother's CD case Jimmy Eat World loomed as a constant threat; but, the coup d'etat never came. Toward the end of 9th grade Spencer introduced me to JEW's first big label release, Static Prevails. This album taught me that it was possible to like another band as much as Weezer. And what's more, I learned that it was OK if I liked another band more than Weezer.

Throughout high school Jimmy Eat World and Weezer traded places as my favorite bands, much like the way Neptune and Pluto trade places as the most distant planet from the sun (mind you, this was before Pluto was demoted to a lowly dwarf planet). On November 21, 1998 (I only remember this because it was my younger brother's birthday) my mom dropped me off -- along with three friends, Jeff, Devyn and Erich -- at Tempe Bowl (R.I.P.) for my first Jimmy Eat World concert. We didn't know the concert started at 9:00; we thought it started at 7:00 (rookie mistake) so we ended up hanging out in the bowling alley for two hours. We also ended up not having to pay because of that, so naïveté was to our benefit. I don't remember much of the concert, I just remember on the way home hearing Neil Diamond's "Girl You'll Be a Woman Soon" for the first time on the way home in my mom's car. The chorus was so easy to remember the four of us were singing along in no time.

A few months later in '99 Clarity was released. One of Spencer's best friends was dating one of the members of JEW's sister so I had been listening to demos of this album a few weeks before it was released. Right after the album came out JEW did a show at a now defunct venue in Tempe called the Green Room. It was a small venue so tickets were selling out fast. I promptly made a trip to Stinkweeds (R.I.P. Tempe location) and they were sold out of tickets. I went to Eastside Records and purchased the remaining 10 or so tickets for my friends and I. The next day at school I was accosted by an angry Kevin Williams who apparently had gone to Stinkweeds and Eastside right after me only to find out tickets were sold out. Sorry Kevin and friends.

Here in Idaho, I meet plenty of fellow students who live near Rexburg and take trips home for the weekend, be they from SLC or another city an Idaho. Being from Arizona, I've never had the luxury of a weekend trip home. So when I went home at the beginning of the month it seemed kind of silly. But it's not every day that Jimmy Eat World goes on tour playing Clarity in its entirety. Going wasn't a question of if, it was a matter of when and how I would be getting there.

As a special treat -- as if to make this concert a veritable blast from the past -- JEW called out of retirement No Knife, a long since departed band who had toured with JEW in their Static-Clarity days.

It would be rare to see any band play a show where they play one of their entire albums, but it would seem even more rare for them to play one of their least commercially successful albums. The Death Cab Transatlanticism tour? Forget about it. The Weezer Pinkerton tour? In my wildest of dreams. But here was Jimmy Eat World -- truly the people's band -- giving their die-hard fans a once in a lifetime experience.

No Knife's performance was without fault; anyone would have been surprised that they had not played together in six years. As amazing as it was to hear JEW play all of Clarity, I was surprised to notice how much I enjoyed their seven song encore, which was comprised of the 7" single "What Would I Say to You Now", "No Sensitivity" from the their split with Jebidiah and hits from their successive albums. I came for Clarity but ended up enjoying the other songs just as much, and at times, more.

How rare it is to find a band that cares about their fans and their music like Jimmy Eat World does. While I can't say that JEW has overthrown =w= as my favorite-of-all-time band, in regards to musical integrity and how they treat their fans, they've definitely earned much more respect than Weezer ever will. That is, until Weezer does the blue album/Pinkerton tour. But I won't hold my breath for that one.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

more than slightly

It's kind of ironic; everyone needs accountants, right? But after a fruitless job search that left me feeling at times like Murray Hewitt, as of this moment, when I graduate from college in mere weeks I'll be jobless.

But it's really not that big of a deal. Something will come up eventually.

Home's been on my mind a lot lately, partly because I was there just over a week ago and partly because it won't be long till I'm back. I've made an observation recently, which I've discussed with a few cherished friends, and I may be wrong, but it seems like when people I know -- fellow BYU-I students rather -- go home for breaks and "off semesters" they are slightly bored. And by slightly I mean more than slightly. While I am often excited to return to school, I feel I have just as much as fun at home as I do at school.

I feel a need to elaborate. I'm not sure what the rest of the U.S. and A. is like because I spent the better part of my preteen to adult life residing in Mesa, Arizona. And the thing about Mesa and its surrounding environs is that no one leaves. It's true. I'm pretty sure about 90% of my AZ friends were born and raised there. I'm pretty sure a proportionate percentage of the percentage just mentioned plan on staying there. And of those who do leave, a similar, well, maybe slightly lower percentage plan on coming back. (This is part of the reason why I'm very glad I left AZ for school.) I myself, while I'm a transplant to the greater Phoenix metropolitan area (I was born in SLC, spent my younger formative years in Colorado), plan on "ending up" there (which might happen sooner than I had hoped). What's more, more than a handful of my AZ friends are married and starting to settle down -- deepening their roots if you will (and I think you will). That said, it's for this reason that going home is always enjoyable: a great number of my friends still live there.

Oh yeah, and we have cool things like record stores, plentiful amazing restaurants, used book stores, and band shows.

Job or no job, I have a lot to be excited about.

To my fellow Rexburgians, the Family if you will (and again, I think you will): I really don't know what to say. I want to write something touching about how much you've meant to me and how great you are but I know I won't realize how much I appreciate and love you till I leave (sadly, that's just how I roll). So, I'm gonna leave that for another post at a later date. But trust me, I do care about you all and I will miss you (some more than others). For now, just know that you've woven a permanent thread into -- to quote that overzealous, obnoxiously intense guy at your last testimony meeting -- "the very fibers of my being" (even though weaving is a man's game).

It's a bit past three in the morning. Thank you for reading this disjointed, overly parenthetical, superlatively hyperlinked post. Please reward yourself by downloading this fresh new Jeremy Enigk track (gratis!).