A line stretching around the block resulted in the Canopy Club being packed elbows to assholes for the Urbana, Illinois, stop of the Beach Slang/Jimmy Eat World tour. While fans waited for the doors to open, Jimmy Eat World’s soundman, who also happens to be Dennis Jagard of California melodic punk band Ten Foot Pole, walked the line playing requests from his band’s back catalog as well as cuts from an album that drops later this year. When the doors finally opened, the club blasted a peculiar mix of ‘90s radio top 40s chart toppers, like Taylor Dayne’s “Tell It To My Heart,” leading to some head scratching as people collected their drinks and made their way to the balcony and club floor.
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Replacements worshipping, road warrioring punk quartet Beach Slang opened the evening with a set that combined material from their earliest 7” EPs output for Dead Broke Records, as well their two full-length studio albums, The Things We Do to Find People Who Feel Like Us (2015) and A Loud Bash of Teenage Feelings (2016), for Polyvinyl. As an aside, The Canopy Club is in the heart of Polyvinyl country, which Alex mentioned from the stage saying that “the label” was present at the show, which I presume added a level of pressure for the band, which is also touring with two relatively new additions, former Mean Creek guitarist Aurore Oungian and former Afghan Whigs and Cursive drummer Cully Symington.
Despite the new additions, the quartet was tight and flawless as they banged out fan favorites “Ride The Wild Haze,” “Hard Luck Kid,” and “Dirty Cigarettes.” Alex did pause the set several times to inject stage banter and levity. For instance, at least a few times Oungian started playing the lead line from Carlos Santana’s “Smooth,” stopping just short of launching into the song, which elicited chuckles from the crowd. Additionally, in the interest of softening up Jimmy Eat World devotees unfamiliar with the band, Beach Slang teased covers of Lit’s “My Own Worst Enemy” and Red Hot Chili Peppers’ “Give It Away,” before settling in on full covers of Oasis’ “Wonderwall” and Pixies’ “Where Is My Mind.”
Alex also spent part of the set reading a list of famous musicians and actors that fans had told him he looks like. For those not in the know, the frontman is known for his stage wardrobe and on this tour it consists of a blazer with a larger heart patch on the chest, a bowtie and his signature maroon pants. The list, which covered a couple of dozen names included, Angus Young, a young Christopher Walken, and Bilbo Baggins. With laughter ringing in the crowd and arms becoming uncrossed the band concluded the set with a particularly charged up, fiery version of “Atomic Bomb.”
Flanked by a pair of stage prop streetlights Jimmy Eat World, and comprised of the same core membership for almost 30 years, the band made their way to the stage to vigorous applause and spent around next two hours covering the staples of their considerable back catalog. The majority of the rapt crowd hung on every riff and word, thrusting fists into the air and singing along at the top of the lungs.
There isn’t much that can be said about the Arizona band that hasn’t been said a million times before; the band’s success has been the result of relatable lyrics, strong song-writing, and catchy hooks for several decades now and they don’t seem to be losing steam as their latest, Integrity Blues (RCA Records, 2016), contains some of the best songs from their considerable cannon. The band tours launches a shed tour with Incubus almost immediately following this tour and fans are sure to be equally delighted for the opportunity to see them on that run of dates.
Here is the setlist:
You With Me
I Will Steal You Back
Lucky Denver Mint
Hear You Me
If You Don’t Don’t
Pass the Baby
For Me This Is Heaven
You Are Free
A Praise Chorus
The Authority Song
Let It Happen
Sure and Certain
Jimmy Eat World:
Words By Tim Anderl, Photos by Jeremy Ward