Are You Listening?

Photographed by: A. Arthur Fisher
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Sing it back! Whoa oh oh oh oh! Jimmy Eat World, a hard edge emo-punk rock band from Arizona, took to the Arlington Theater October 28th in support of their ninth studio album, "Integrity Blues." Their ninth since forming in the early ’90s. That’s a whole lot of emo with a whole bunch of catchy phrases now stuck in your head.

Known for songs that express the pain that comes along with the confusion of growing up, of falling in love, of losing love, and of losing yourself, Jimmy Eat World’s newest effort is a bit harder with the rock and subtler with the context. Throughout their years, they have created such teenage anthems as “The Middle,” “Pain,” and “The Sweetness,” songs that were raw yet poppy, getting the darkest emotions stuck in your head in the most melodic way. The boys seemed to have grown up now and it shows in their new music.

But how is it for an established band to have new music out, on a very well-made alternative rock album, only to play live for a crowd that simply want to hear the emo songs that got them through the darkest days of their young lives? Songs that are like dear friends in the cold, lonely night? I imagine you’ve learned to pick and choose your set list wisely and don’t get too attached to the outcome.

Boldly starting the set off with a new song, Jimmy Eat World teased the crowd to attention with “Get Right.” Unlike most shows at the Arlington Theater, this one was General Admission. This basically meant no seat assignments and some dancing (if not too close to security). It was the first time I had attended a GA show at this venue and it was perfect for this band.

Once at attention, Jimmy Eat World gave them what they wanted. “Bleed America,” “Big Casino,” “If You Don’t, Don’t” got the crowd jumping and singing along as if in church, leading into another new song, “You Are Free,” that actually could be a choir hymn. By this time the audience was tethered in, the selection of new and old songs was so masterfully intertwined there was no escaping its musical web. Blocks of new songs, including “It Matters” and “You with Me,” quickly followed with the staples “A Praise Chorus,” “Let It Happen,” “23,” and “Work.” All the wonderfully crafted catchy phrases sung with all the emotion of middle-school, filled the Arlington as the crowd rejoiced in the music.

Jimmy Eat World went on to play twenty-four songs, including three encores, ending with “The Sweetness.” Truthfully they could have played on through the night. I was spinning free! Whoa oh oh oh oh oh! With a little sweet and simple numbing me…

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