Words and images by Jess Laicy
Three things come to my mind whenever someone says Jimmy Eat World.
First, how over-played The Middle was when it first came out, causing my hatred for the song. Second, my friend Mikey is a HUGE Jimmy Eat World fan and managed to get me to look past my hatred of The Middle. Third, and lastly, the television series One Tree Hill.
Jumping ahead to number two, lets start with Mikey. He’s a drummer and loves Jimmy Eat World. When I first found out that he loved them, I questioned as to why that was, because the only song I had heard by them was The Middle… and I hated it. I still kind of do, even to this day. Enter the “Oh my god, look beyond that song and check them out” speech from Mikey.
I took his advice and fell in love with their album “Futures.” Around this time, the show One Tree Hill became a huge thing. I think the first song by the band featured in the show was 23, but there is this great episode entitled “The Tide That Left and Never Came Back.” That episode is all about growth, love, change, loss, and becoming the person you’re meant to be. In the middle of all this, one of the main characters books Jimmy Eat World to play at the local club. Here’s where I blame the show for me falling harder in love with them.
They play Work, which is my all-time favorite song. Then there is this incredible heartbreaking moment where all the main characters are doing this voice-over about life, love, tragedy and loss, while Hear You Me can be heard in the background as they show the band playing at the club. The character’s words, combined with the song, made it such a powerful moment that even to this day, when I hear the song Hear You Me, I still think of that scene from the show. As a matter of fact, it’s the only thing I think of and it causes all the feels.
Here we are 14 years later, and that damn band is still giving me all the feels. Only this time, I experienced it for myself and not through the eyes of a character on a hit teen drama. I’d never seen Jimmy Eat World play live until I got to shoot the show at Express Live! this month, despite my many attempts. I kid you not, every single time they’ve come to Columbus, I’ve always had something else going on and missed the show. I guess everything happens for a reason, right?
As a photographer covering the show, you’re allowed to shoot the first three songs of the set from the photo “pit” in front of the stage. I get into the pit and they started the set off with Pain, following it with Futures, and head into the third song… Bleed American.
This is one of the songs I’ve always been fond of, and now here I am standing in front of Jim as he sings “salt, sweat, sugar on the asphalt, our hearts littering the topsoil…” all while I’m taking pictures, singing along, and praying that the shot I just took comes out. It’s in that moment I realize I want to do this forever and it hits me like a wave. The song ends and we’re shown out of the pit. At this point, I sneak into the crowd to hang out with some friends of mine who are at the show.
They played Lucky Denver Mint, and when it ends, so begins the expanding of my awesome, heartfelt, becoming the person you’re meant to be, main character in a 2000’s teen drama moment. The beginning cords for 23 hit the air and it’s on. My friend, who is standing behind me, yells in excitement about how much he loves this song. Yup, so do I. It’s on “Futures,” how can I not?
As the song starts, he wraps his arms around my shoulders, and we start singing… poorly on my part, might I add. It was such an iconic heartfelt thing. In that moment, it’s just two friends with the love of the same band, enjoying this song that they both adore, while in a sea of people doing the same thing.
That’s what Jimmy Eat World does. They provide the soundtrack to epic human moments. I lost myself in that seven minutes. I stopped thinking about whether my shots had come out, or what I’m going to do if this dream of being a photographer doesn’t pan out, or how bad this article is going to suck. Instead, I just stood there and enjoyed the music that had created this incredibly human feeling. A lot of bands can do that, but I’m not sure they do it on the level Jimmy does.
I wasn’t sure I was going to be able to recover, and I was right because then they played THE SONG… my song, Work, and I lost it. You can’t do that to a woman, Jimmy. You can’t give her these two perfect moments back-to-back like that and expect her to be okay. Truth be told, I wasn’t. I don’t think I’ve felt this human in a while, and I know that most people are fine with feeling human. I am not.
Again, that’s what this band does. They find a way to make you feel with the perfect song, played at the perfect time and give no shits they made that cold, dead, black heart in the audience feel again.
Damn it, Jimmy!
I made it through three more songs before they played Hear You Me and the One Tree Hill flashbacks immediately flooded in. All… the… damn… feels. After this, I was happy when they rounded out the evening with a mix of old and new tunes.
Just before the moment I was dreading, but knew was coming, my other friend looked over at me and said, “I hope you’re ready, because here it comes… the song… the song you hate.” He was right. They closed the show with The Middle, and I was happy to fall back into that grumpy, cold-hearted person once again. I’ll bet that if you ask those who were around me, they’ll tell you the switch didn’t happen that quick, because even me, the human being who hates that song more than anything, was singing it.
There you have it. My own personal episode of One Tree Hill, where I learned that by following my dreams, living in the moment, enjoying some 2000’s nostalgia with people I care about while Jimmy Eat World plays in the background, it can actually change your life. Even if it’s only for an hour.
If you ever get the opportunity to see them live, take it, as you assuredly will not regret it. Maybe, just don’t wait for as long as I did to see them. I’m not sure that had I seen them before now, it would have been as magical as it was. Isn’t that “magic” what we’re all really hoping for anyway?
I know, I know… stop letting the photographer write, she’s terrible at it.
- Bleed America
- Lucky Denver Mint
- Love Never
- Always Be
- Hear You Me
- Sure and Certain
- Big Casino
- A Praise Chorus
- The Middle