Jimmy Eat World With We Were Promised Jetpacks
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By Sarah Mudler
The cracking paint and slightly off-kilter seating at the Riviera Theatre in Chicago is evidence of the kind of raucous rock and roll shows this venue has seen since it was transformed into a private nightclub in 1986, and on Oct. 7 the theater was prepping to be rocked yet again as Scottish foursome We Were Promised Jetpacks opened the two-band bill supporting headliners Jimmy Eat World with a barrage of rousing chords. It wasn't long before the crowd, bathed in the soothing red stage lights, stood mesmerized by the earnest lyrics of lead singer Adam Thompson with his unmistakable rich Scottish accent.
Supported by drummer Darren Lackie, guitarist Michael Palmer and bassist Sean Smith, the indie rock sensation has spent the last year on tour in support of their debut album These Four Walls, released in 2009 on FatCat Records.
While the young band's songs start off soothing, they grow in intensity, both lyrically and musically, which brought the whole room to an apex of almost palpable tension, most evident in the painfully catchy singles "It's Thunder And It's Lightning," "Quiet Little Voices" and "Ships With Holes Will Sink." Thompson managed to end each song almost two feet from the microphone, belting out the heartfelt lyrics as the rest of the band frantically played their instruments to maintain the pace they had produced. By the end of their short opening set, the crowd had obviously been won over, spending the last song with their hands in the air and faces pitched upward as they sang along to every lyric.
By the time the house lights came up the crowd had grown to sold-out status, filling every available inch of the venue from the balcony to the main floor.
Refusing to leave their staked-out spots for the short set change, the entire room rose to their feet and welcomed pop-rockers Jimmy Eat World to the stage with an explosion of screams and whistles.
Touring in support of their most recent album Invented, released on Sept. 28, the Mesa, Ariz.-based rockers — lead vocalist Jim Adkins, bassist Rick Burch, drummer Zach Lind, and guitarist Tom Linton — have honed their chops since their beginnings in the early '90s and have RIAA certified gold and platinum albums under their collective belt.
Scattered red stage lights spastically flashed on an audience anxiously waiting for every lyric, guitar strum and drum beat.
"Thank you so, so much," said Adkins as the band launched into their latest single "My Best Theory."
Turning to the slower licks of "For Me This Is Heaven," off the critically acclaimed '90s cult classic Clarity, Adkins cooed, "Can you still feel the butterflies? Can you still hear the last goodnight?" as the blue diamond-shaped stage lights pulsed to an almost seizure-inducing pace.
Unlike most shows I have attended in recent memory, this crowd seemed less interested in snapping pictures and videos, instead using their iPhones and BlackBerrys as lighters, raising them above their heads during the addictive pop ballads.
As Adkins switched from acoustic to electric guitar and the band revealed their harder rock roots with "Evidence," the house lights faded in and out, glinting off the wide smiles of the rapt audience with their hands held high in the air, clapping in tandem to the beat.
Closing the set, with an encore chock-full of classic singles such as "The Middle" and "Sweetness," the band had the audience transitioning from a cheer to a balcony-shaking roar, almost equaling the volume screaming from the speakers.
As the last chords hung over the room, Adkins stood onstage waving goodbye, Lind handed his sticks to a rabid fan, Linton provided high fives to the eager front row, and the house lights came up, revealing a fully rocked-out crowd.
Set List (Jimmy Eat World)
"Your New Aesthetic"
"A Praise Chorus"
"My Best Theory"
"Let It Happen"
"For Me This Is Heaven"
"Action Needs An Audience"
"Coffee And Cigarettes"
"Hear You Me"
"Goodbye Sky Harbor"
(A Midwest girl at heart, Sarah Mudler joined The Recording Academy Chicago Chapter in 2004. Coming from a Detroit rock background, she has expanded her musical interests into everything from pop to blues to jazz to gospel, and even a little country now and again. She can be seen haunting local Chicago venues almost every night of the week, and is currently the Senior Project Manager for the Chicago Chapter.)
(Photo information: Jimmy Eat World performs at the Riviera Theatre on Oct. 7 / Photo: The Recording Academy)