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Sunday, June 5, 2011

A Civil Twilight... And Jimmy Eat World... My take

It's happening again...  and I am uncertain what can stop it.  Talented and well received bands everywhere are picking opening acts that have a bit more to offer.  Last night at the Wellmont Theatre in Montclair, NJ it was in full display.  A Civil Twilight, the South African trio, outclassed and out-rocked the headliner: Jimmy Eat World. 

And that is not to say Jimmy Eat World does not have its place, or have ability.  Lead Singer/Guitarist and spirited frontman Jim Adkins led JEW through a nice, fast paced set.  The band celebrated the 10 year anniversary of their breakthrough album "Bleed American" by performing it in its entirety.  Their top 5 single "The Middle" stood out and the boys from Arizona did a fine job busting out pop energy.  The much younger crowd provided ample energy.  It was clear early that Jimmy Eat World is 1) a talented group of guys who great chemistry and 2) have a very similar set of songs in their catalogue.  Adkins voice and guitar work match his enthusiasm.  And his supporting cast, namely Tom Linton (guitar/vocals), add to the mix quite nicely.  I think I demand a bit more from the rhythm section these days.  And quite frankly the bass and drums are not as strong as they could be.  That is not there sound though.  This is pop music played on its highest decibel setting.  Not earth shattering, but by no means offensive. 

Problem is the real stars at Wellmont last night played first.  And when you set the bar high like Civil Twilight does, tough following it up.  I caught a bunch of grief last year when I took friends to see Eels at Terminal 5.  Mr E rarely if ever has an opening act, and if he does, they uniformly suck.  At Terminal 5 he had a ventrioquist.  Only uphill from there.  And he did not have his best set that night, but I remember for certain that the opening act was not better.

Brothers Steven(vocals, bass, keyboards) and Andrew McKellar(guitar), and drummer Richard Wouters do not have the most unique sound ever, but boy does it rock.  Starting the set with a rousing "Is Anybody Out There?" there was no doubt who was in charge.  Steven's voice is powerful and he possesses a confident stage presence.  Andrew fills a room nicely with power chords.  All the while Wouters pounds away giving this trio great rhythm.  So much sound all in flawless unison from just 3 men.  Impressive.  It was when they nailed an eerie cover of Massive Attack's "Teardrop" I became a believer.  I thought it was gutsy enough for a man to cover this song...  but man can he sing. 

Steven sat at the piano for their final song, their CW soundtrack hit, "Letters from The Sky."  Again, a brilliant and inspiring effort from a group that I hope we will see a lot more of in the future. 

Weird that each band has members around the same age.  Meanwhile, Jimmy Eat World is out promoting its 7th album and Civil Twilight is on album 1.  Weird too me and my group last night were very much in the "old" section of the demographic.  As my wife exited the ladies room she overheard a girl say "there are 30 and 40 year olds here.  I am going home."  We will ignore for a second that she was fat and unattractive (my wife talking.)  But really?  Ew, we are going home cause 30 and 40 year olds are here?  I saw that crowd last night.  It wasn't pretty.  And I know I use to hate the non-traditional student in my English Lit class who was only there to get his life in order and cared way too much and made us all lokk bad...  but now that I am that guy...  he is super cool. 

And could these young kids hit the treadmill once in a while?  I get liking music and wanting to be anti-establishment.  But it wouldn't kill you to take a spin class once in a while.  Staring at computer screens and playing Halo into the night does not a hottie make. 

And we were all very close to witnessing a fight in the psedu-mosh-pit too.  About 6 kids kept throwing themselves into one another a few bodies from where we were standing.  Apparently one of them bumped into another hostile youth and his girlfriend, soaking the girl in beer.  For several songs the hostile youth gave death stare to the others imploring them to engage.  No such luck.  I felt an all out brawl might have made Jimmy Eat World's set more lively. 

My friend texted me earlier "Jimmy Eats the same song over and over again."  True, I laughed.  But a good time nonetheless, right?  I responded.  "Yes, it is live music we are after."

Couldn't agree more. 

Further reading:  Bold indicates mandatory

"Letters from the Sky" A Civil Twilight  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9Wa7dFR09vU   Actually has the trailer for Rise of the Planet Apes too which looks super bad ass.

"Is Anybody Out There" A Civil Twilight http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xUolwC6rDxE&feature=related

"Soldier" A Civil Twilight http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PxSSvcOeowU&feature=fvwrel

"Teardrop"  Massive Attack http://www.dailymotion.com/video/xy70e_massive-attack-teardrop_music  For all you House MD fans who ever wondered where the title song/title came from.  Amazing song/Amazing video.  And A Civil Twilight pulled it off with all their U2 meets Police meets Invictus charm last night. 

"Sweetness"  Jimmy Eat World http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wU3KBI5qyEY

"The Middle" Jimmy Eat World http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oKsxPW6i3pM&feature=related  Good video for a classic song.  Cannot believe my this is 10 years old.  I was in my 20's when it was released!!!  Yikes.  Now I am staring 40 right in the face, and no not because my glasses are off.  Did I mention how young the crowd was last night???  Should I just get a seasons pass for the Met and be done with it???  I look like a Calvin Klein print ad compared to the relics at La Boheme, don't I?

Now I fear I will be the gray, long haired hippie that all the kids make fun of.  And I used to be the one doing the making fun of :-( 

If The Decemberists crowd in Brooklyn June 14th is as young I may have to rethink everything. 

Added Note:  Ah Pizz! http://www.ahpizznj.com/menu.html  is a great spot for pizza prior to your Montclair concerts.  Great stuff at great prices!!

1 comment:

  1. We were just to see a friend's band play out in Parsippany. Interesting crowd, to say the least.

    As for your experience... we had a very similar one when we went to see Barenaked Ladies in Morristown earlier this year. They were good... but their opening band was AWESOME. (Jukebox the Ghost is now one of my favorites). Barenaked Ladies was almost a letdown after the opening.

    I hadn't heard of Civil Twilight... but I just bought their album. Thanks for sharing.

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