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Twenty years of music in two hours. Sound impossible? Not for the veteran musicians of Jimmy Eat World. Band members Jim Adkins, Tom Linton, Zach Lind and Rick Burch were up for the challenge and delivered on some of their biggest hits at SLO Brewing Co. this past Tuesday night.
Indie rock band Matt Pond PA opened up the show with a mellowed-out start. The New York-based band hit on some of its most popular songs including “Starting” and “Love to Get Used.” The audience bobbed their heads to the melodic, relaxed tunes.
In the middle of the set, Matt Pond yelled out, “How you doing, San Luis? Is that how you say it? I’m just trying to speak your language.”
The crowd laughed and yelled back with approval.
The energy tangibly amped up as Jimmy Eat World took the stage. The excitement reverberated off SLO Brew’s brick walls as lead vocalist Jim Adkins sang the first line of “I Will Steal You Back” with the sharp, clear and fresh sounds that defines the band’s 2013 album, “Damage.”
Though the band played some of its more recent music, it also delivered on its promise to touch on all of its past albums. From 1999’s “Clarity” to 2013’s “Damage,” all of Jimmy’s previous sounds, motifs and attitudes echoed throughout the small room.
“You guys are getting too crazy. You can’t have the up without the down. This is one of our saddest songs,” Adkins said as he strapped on his acoustic guitar in preparation for the next song, “Please Say No.”
The slow songs continued with one of the band’s more well-known tunes. The crowd sang out with Adkins for the famous lyrics, “There’s no one in town I know/You gave us some place to go/I never said thank you for that.” The results were chill-inducing as “Hear You Me” emerged as a clear highlight of the night.
The audience knew the favorites they wanted to hear, and one fan screamed out a song request for “23.”
“It’s too early to yell shit you haven’t heard yet. There is a good chance we’ll play it,” Adkins responded while glancing at the set list with a devilish grin.
As the set progressed, Jimmy Eat World played songs from the same albums back to back. This set-up lent itself to a musical journey for fans to listen to how the band’s sound has both evolved and remained the same.
“This is an old one. We’ve got plenty of those now,” Adkins said with a laugh as he delved into “Goodbye Sky Harbor.”
While they transitioned from slow songs to the high-energy tunes the band is known for, strobe lights pulsed for the song “Pain.” The crowd raised its arms, sang out and were captured in the moment. The small room allowed fans to see sweat drip from Adkin’s tousled hair as he poured himself into the music, droplets being caught in the beams of white light.
Of course, no Jimmy Eat World concert would be complete without a salute to one of its first big hits: “The Middle.” The band closed the show with the beloved song in an encore.
Audience member and Los Angeles resident Aaron Bornhart especially loved the atmosphere of the smaller venue.
“You really get to experience (the band) and feel the energy,” Bornhart said. “Not every band is willing to play in smaller venues and Jimmy Eat World certainly doesn’t need to. But it is cool that they do.”
Adding to the venue, SLO Brew General Manager Monte Schaller said the locale has become a more popular venue throughout the years.
“We treat the artists so well and they enjoy spending a day in SLO so much that we have gained a great reputation in the music industry,” Schaller said. “From L.A. to Austin, SLO Brew has become a popular destination for them to seek out to play and is no longer just a stop for gas and food as it may have been 10 years ago.”
Self-proclaimed super fan Jillian Lane has been listening to Jimmy Eat World since she was 13.
“I lived in Arizona and would sneak out of the house and see them at house parties,” Lane said. “I am like their oldest fan. It’s interesting to watch them move from house parties to tours.”
Whether they play in small venues or big arenas, Jimmy Eat World brings that same energy and sense of history to its audience of dedicated fans, old and new.