In 1999, Jimmy Eat World put out an album called Clarity. The rock band has released three full-lengths since then, but diehard fans will argue that none of its albums will surpass the greatness that is Clarity.
Last night at the 9:30 Club, fans packed the house for a performance of the album in full to celebrate its tenth anniversary. The merchandise line streamed back to the bar as fans eagerly waited to get their hands on the freshly pressed Clarity vinyl—roughly 40 copies are available at each leg of the ten-date tour. (Don’t worry, a vinyl package can be ordered online.)
Fans behaved themselves and were receptive as opening act Reubens Accomplice took the stage. The quintet held its own with strong vocals, slide guitar, a female drummer, and some fun theatrics such as using car keys in place of shakers, the bassist playing the keyboard with the head of his four-string guitar, and one of the vocalists singing through a megaphone.
But the band’s set was forgotten the moment Jimmy Eat World launched into “Table for Glasses.” If vocalist and guitarist Jim Adkins, guitarist and backing vocalist Tom Linton, bassist Rick Burch, and drummer Zach Lind weren’t standing right in front of their fans, the set could have easily been mistaken for a recording. They didn’t miss a beat or a note, and the vocals were as crisp as though they’d just been edited in the studio.
The band played the album in its entirety and in order, and it shouldn’t have been any other way. The stage wasn’t decorated with too much flash—a simple light backdrop changed colors throughout the songs—and the smoke machine wasn’t on overdrive, so it didn’t take away from the music.
The set ended with “Goodbye Sky Harbor,” with Adkins looping the vocals to capture the intricate layered sound heard on the last ten minutes of Clarity. The band cut the song shorter than the 16-minute album version, and this could only mean saving room for one thing: an amazing encore.
Fans know that when the lights of a venue aren’t instantly turned back on, the band will reclaim the stage for a few more songs. With nothing left to play from Clarity, what would it play?
The rockers first did some oldies: “What Would I Say to You Now” from the seven-inch split with JeJune and “No Sensitivity” from the split with Jebediah. The guys didn’t leave fans of their more recent albums hanging. They played “Work” and “Pain” from Futures before launching into the Bleed American radio hit “The Middle.” Over roaring screams and chants for more, Adkins struggled to find words other than “thank you” and closed the show with “Sweetness”—a pretty sweet end to an already sweet night.
As the crowd filtered through the exits, the only echoed criticism was “I wish they would’ve talked more.” Other than that, it was a stellar show.