Jimmy Eat World at House of Blues, 5/16/14

Jimmy Eat World House of Blues May 16, 2k14

Some people just ooze cool. You look at them and no matter what they're doing they just look cool. If you're in a band, you're not guaranteed to look cool, but it certainly helps. Millions have slapped on guitars in the past few decades in the pursuit of cool, but most of them you wouldn't put on a t-shirt.

Jimmy Eat World are not cool, at least not in the traditional rock and roll sense of the word. It's not that they look like dorks or anything, they just look... well... like dudes. If you saw them walking down the street, you'd never guess that for one brief shining moment they had a song in the top 5 of the Billboard Hot 100.

And that's OK. More than OK really. Not every band has to ooze cool or have a gimmick or cause a riot or wear masks or destroy their instruments or have next level stage banter. Sometimes you just need some good songs that can hit people right in the heart.

Jimmy Eat World have those in abundance.

Jimmy Eat World may never win any awards for "most dynamic live show" but just because they go out and just play songs doesn't mean that they're boring. There's a fire inside Jim Adkins, an intensity that would be scary in a hardcore or metal band, but in this band comes off as charming. A lot of bands forget the importance of things like eye contact when it comes to connecting with a crowd.

This was the band's first swing through Texas since their release last year of Damage, and new material - in particular show opening "I Will Steal You Back - fit in nicely with their older material. Although they experiment a bit in the studio, this tour is pretty much all straight forward rockers with a couple of acoustic numbers to help break things up. So no, there was no "Goodbye Sky Harbor" or "Night Drive" but "Blister" and "Futures" left the crowd ecstatic.

But really, when you're playing to a crowd that gets it (and from where I was standing they totally did) everything you play is going to be a winner. "Sweetness" and "Pain" to get the crowd even more pumped up? Check. "23" to get all up in their feelings? Check. "Hear You Me" to bring a tear to their eyes? Check. "Bleed American" and "The Middle" as the main set and encore closing sing-alongs to send everyone home happy? Double check.

Review continues on the next page.

Nostalgia gets a bad rap. We've all seen enough of those Buzzfeed lists that are carefully calculated to mine your childhood for pageviews, but the reality is that if something connects with you when you're younger it's likely always going to connect with you. And while Jimmy Eat World remain an active band that continues to release new material, they understand the crowds they play to. Of their last seven songs, six are "classics" ("Chase This Light" is a perfectly serviceable song, but it's no "Dizzy.") that play directly to that nostalgia bone most people have.

It's funny to hear "A Praise Chorus" now, 13 years after it came out, in this context. The crowd has already fallen in love with the band and are just looking to get that endorphin rush that comes with it. And yet, there is one very specific thing song is right about, at least when it comes to seeing Jimmy Eat World live: nostalgia won't let you down.

Personal Bias: I've been listening to Jimmy Eat World since before Clarity came out, which I imagine makes me one of a few thousand outside of Arizona that can say that.

The Crowd: A lot of former emo kids who got through the middle of the ride and in to adulthood. We made it, ya'll.

Overheard in the Crowd: The not so quiet chatter of a bored House of Blues crowd during opener Stagnant Pools. They may not be your cup of tea, but must everyone talk so loud?

Random Notebook Dump: It's always nice to see people singing along, but the people that play air drums to "Lucky Denver Mint" are my favorite.

Setlist: I Will Steal you Back Big Casino My Best Theory Appreciation Lucky Denver Mint Here You Me Futures Polaris Work For Me This Is Heaven The Heart Is Hard To Find Damage Pain Blister Sweetness Bleed American

Chase This Light 23 The Middle

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Cory Garcia is a Contributing Editor for the Houston Press. He once won an award for his writing, but he doesn't like to brag about it. If you're reading this sentence, odds are good it's because he wrote a concert review you don't like or he wanted to talk pro wrestling.
Contact: Cory Garcia