July 31, 2002
It was another night of emo at the Agora, and that meant I was probably the oldest fan in attendance. But that didn't bother me, because I'm all about the music and there was some great stuff on this hot and steamy summer night.
The first band, Recover, sounded like a young version of Jimmy Eat World, but must not have taken their Ritalin. They were jumping around so much and swinging their guitars around like baseball bats, eventually knocking all the drums over at the end of their set. The best part was watching them quietly and neatly put everything away afterward. Oh yeah, and they rocked and had great songs.
The Promise Ring, the so-called founders of the emo genre, went next. They sounded like a mix of indie rock, punk, modern rock/pop and alt-country. No wonder they call it emo -- it just rolls off the tongue easier than all those genres together. The lead singer had a voice like Robert Smith of the Cure, and the band sometimes sounded like the 1980s band, as well as REM. Of course at other times they had that Blink/Green Day thing going. The other emo factor was that the band was dressed like the crowd, in t-shirts and jeans. Just like Recover, these guys rocked and had great songs.
It's sometimes fun watching a band of Jimmy Eat World's newfound stature as pop stars perform. They were simply as tight as years of touring has made them, and you could tell they were the headliner by their slick light show and how they presented themselves on stage. Their set smoked from the beginning, as they opened with "A Praise Chorus" and went right into the title track from their latest effort "Bleed American." The Modern English-esque "If You Don't, Don't" was noticeably lacking the piano part on the record, but it didn't take away from the energy.
Two songs from 1998's Clarity were highlights of the show, the Toad-ish "Lucky Denver Mint" and the goose bump-inducing "For Me This is Heaven." The crowd was sweaty and yet still bouncing around and singing along to most of the band's latest material, especially "Get It Faster" and their first single, "The Middle," the latter being the song that has sent these guys straight to instant fame. Lead singer Jim Adkins quipped "last time we played in there," referring to the much smaller Agora Ballroom across the hall. A hit song will do that for a band.
The two encores were the ballad "My Sundown" and the current single "Sweetness." Call it emo, call it whatever you want. I'll just call this an evening of The Rock. The first two bands were great but Jimmy Eat World was one of the best live bands I've seen in quite some time.