J.E.W. - A Religious Experience

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

A few months back, I bought tickets to see my favorite band of all time, Jimmy Eat World, play at the 9:30 Club here in D.C. I think that most people who value music, the ones who really consider it an inextricable part of their fiber, remember - nay, could never forget - which single band made them the way they are, which band got the ball rolling, which band changed their lives. My band is Jimmy Eat World.

When I was 17, my then-boyfriend Dave instructed me to open the glove compartment of his teal Tempo. Inside was a copy of Jimmy Eat World's "Bleed American" (renamed a self-titled album shortly after 9/11) with a Post-It on top: "J.E.W. for the Jew." I'd heard him talk about the band, most notably when our Spanish teacher asked him to describe to our class what "emo" meant, but I doubted I could dig a band with such an absurd name.

I was wrong.

Now, seven years later, I truly can't remember what I listened to before I knew Jimmy Eat World - &, in many ways, who I was. This music, & the music it became a gateway into, changed my life & my views & my emotions. And if it wasn't the music that did it, well, the music certainly came at a time when all of those things were changing so much that I needed something to cling to, to blame it on, to feel it through, and Jimmy Eat World became that band for me.

Tonight, Jimmy Eat World played the second night of its 10-stop "Clarity" anniversary tour, celebrating the 10th anniversary since the release of its best-selling album. They played the entire album straight through, no frills or interpretations, & topped it off with a few of their best songs from other albums. I stood about eight people deep from center stage, where Jim Adkins & the boys made "Clarity" into real-life musical magic. Seriously.

*so sue me, I videotaped sideways... damn.

I've been to a lot of concerts, but never one like that, a show that I felt throughout my entire body. It was like really good sex or playing a sport -- exhilarating, exhausting, emotional. I can't explain it, & I've already been cliche enough, but it really felt like being a part of something much bigger. I felt connected to the people standing around me, dancing & screaming out ten years of teen & former-teen angst, each conjuring up our own meaning & memories to the same notes & lyrics. I burst into spontaneous & uncharacteristic smiles when the crowd around me rocked out in unison particularly hard, like during "Sweetness." And because I'm a crier, I let the tears roll when it felt appropriate, especially during "Just Watch the Fireworks," Dave's song.

I am in awe.
For me, this was heaven.


  1. I think you said it all perfectly.

    For me, that first band was R.E.M., but Jimmy Eat World is up there - they just came a little later 'cause I'm old :)

    Tonight was amazing. The great concerts have those moments...when you just close your eyes and let the music carry you away - and the tears and the chills and everything just comes together.

    I spent a lot of tonight's show with my eyes closed :)

  2. There is NOTHING like seeing one of your favorites live. My band is Gin Blossoms - everytime I see them live, i sing along and think about driving my first car with the top down and radio blaring, singing "Allison Road" and feeling free.

  3. My "the band" is The Roots. Their second album, Do You Want More, made me want to write.


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