Jimmy Eat World Bring Nostalgia and Heart To A Packed First Avenue


Short weeks are the worst. I mean, they are the best especially when it’s because it’s Riot Fest week but holy crap I feel so overwhelmed trying to fit the work that I typically do in seven days into just three. Because of that, yesterday just felt off. I felt discouraged, exhausted, and stressed– nothing good but that all changed the second I walked into First Avenue for the show on Tuesday night.

Brooklyn, New York-based Charly Bliss was the one and only opener on the show. This allowed them to be on stage for forty minutes to really give the nearly sold-out audience a good taste of what they are all about. If I’m being quite honest, I’m not sure their music was quite for me. Although super fun and boppy, I found vocalist Eva Hendricks’ voice to be a bit too pop-based for my personal liking but that didn’t stop me from having my eyes glued on the stage throughout their set. As I watched Eva bounce around the stage as if it were made out of trampolines, I had a flashback to seeing them in the 7th Street Entry back in June of 2019. It’s a vague memory but I remember being captivated in the same way back then so it was so nice to know that a couple of years and a much larger stage hasn’t changed a thing about this band.

Charly Bliss only has two albums out and a smattering of EPs and singles. Really, in the grand scheme of things, they are still a bit of a baby band but they are making waves and their being on this tour is a huge wave. That and the response that they got from the crowd told me everything I need to know about Charly Bliss. They have a cult following and that following is growing with every show they play. Love their sound or hate it, there’s no denying the amount of fun you have when watching them perform and it’s impossible to walk away from their set saying that they didn’t catch your eyes and ears. Their set was honestly just what I needed to get out of the funk and haze I had found myself lost in throughout the day and it cleared my head so I was ready for the headliner to really come in and take over.

You know Jimmy Eat World, the headliner of the Tuesday night show. Even if you don’t know their name, you know some of their songs or at least have heard “The Middle” in some movie or on some friend’s playlists. Even with the fame this Arizona-born band found with their 2001 album ‘Bleed American’, they have always stayed oddly humble and have become one of those bands that a whole generation praises but yet have remained somewhat out of the mainstream. What I’m trying to say is that there was a feeling in the air as the band took the stage that I just can’t put into words. It was admiration and excitement all ending with a giant weight being lifted off of all of those in the audience as the band jumped into their set that should have lasted a lot longer but absolutely did the job.

Nothing about this band has really changed since they started back in 1993. Overall, their sound is the same, and honestly, I’m convinced that vocalist Jim Adkins has found the fountain of youth. The amount of relief I felt when I figured this out was huge. I know I just saw them back in the spring of 2018 but the pandemic seems to have changed everything and some bands have completely shifted their sound and style. Deep down, I knew this would be the case but I think I just had to see and hear it to believe it. From the first note of “Futures” to the final chord of “The Middle”, I was lost in this mix of nostalgia and guilt for not keeping up with this band but every moment was more perfect than the last.

Although Jimmy Eat World has a staggering ten albums out dating back to 1994, the focus in their set seemed to be their monumental 2001 album, ‘Bleed American’. Okay, I didn’t actually do the math to see what album each of the nineteen songs they played came from and maybe I only feel this way because I am such a nostalgia-seeker and was just waiting for those nostalgic-drenched tracks but it really did feel like they played a lot from that album which made my night. It didn’t only make my night, it clearly made the night of every other thirty-something in the audience. Not only did they play the hits from the album, they also played some of those songs that never seemed to get the attention they deserved but still hit all of the fans in a very heavy and beautiful way. My personal favorite moment was the band playing through “Work” but there wasn’t a single moment throughout their set where there wasn’t a smile on my face.

I will be at Riot Fest in Chicago all weekend and Jimmy Eat World will be there. Honestly, they weren’t even on my list to see while in Chicago just because I knew I was seeing them the week before but, after Tuesday night, I will be making it a point to catch their set at Riot Fest.