On Friday night, I was on assignment for a concert review at Toyota Music Factory, where Third Eye Blind, Jimmy Eat World and Ra Ra Riot performed. Fellow Dallas Observer music writer, Chelsey Norris, happened to be among the 8,000 people in the crowd, after which we conversed about the experience.
Before this interaction, my headline would've been "Jimmy Eat World Played Toyota Music Factory, and We Counted 18 Load-Bearing Pillars In the Venue.” Suffice to say, I was not nearly as impressed with their set as I was with Third Eye Blind’s. Norris, on the other hand, thought Jimmy Eat World put on the superior performance.
We decided to stop by the bar at Alamo Drafthouse and continue the conversation. Here’s how it went down.
Garrett Gravley: From what I’ve gathered, pop-punk, emo and post-hardcore are your beat as a writer, so Jimmy Eat World must really be in your wheelhouse.
Chelsey Norris: Yeah, totally. I was just here for fun because two of my favorite bands were playing. Jimmy Eat World, in particular, is one of those bands that started it all.
GG: They did make emo commercial. Bleed American is what, I think, brought it to the mainstream.
CN: I think it would be even before that, in 1999. Clarity is one of those albums that a lot of emo artists I talk to for assignments will cite as one of their inspirations. They’ll say that album’s what started it all for them.
GG: Do you like Jimmy Eat World’s catalog post-Bleed American?
CN: Futures is probably my favorite album of theirs, just from a front-to-back standpoint.
GG: But do you think they did their entire catalog justice tonight? I mean, they played only one song (from) Clarity.
CN: I think they did. I mean, people that are going to come out to this are not going to know Clarity, and the fact that they even played one song (“Lucky Denver Mint”) from it was surprising. The crowd that was there was not going to respond to that, and as you saw, they didn’t.
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GG: I guess where we disagree is that — and I like their music — but I thought they were boring, at least on a stage-presence level.
CN: I felt like maybe on the first three or four songs, they were just getting into it. They started with “Pain,” and to me, it was very off. Timing was not good, it wasn’t tight. We all know that song word-for-word, and so even the smallest mistake is going to stick out like a sore thumb. But I’ll just attribute that to them getting started. They’re on tour, it’s hectic ... I still loved it, and that’s what’s so great about live music – anything can happen.
GG: And I guess it’s the opener’s job to set the bar really low for the headliner, but I felt like they did that job too well. Third Eye Blind was awesome. They exceeded expectations. They were very interactive with the crowd. They had this infectious energy to them.
CN: Third Eye Blind was definitely awesome. I think I would attribute that energy more to the culture of getting to shows late. You saw when Ra Ra Riot opened, there was nobody there. I feel like more people were there when Third Eye Blind came on, and that might explain why it was more infectious. On a songwriting level, I would argue that Jimmy Eat World is just better.
GG: Yeah, I would agree with that. But what do you think about the pairing of them, though? Was this a co-headline tour, or was Jimmy Eat World an opener?
CN: That’s a good question. I feel like the intention was for this to be a co-headline tour, but I think you’re right. At least at the Dallas show, people were more excited to see Third Eye Blind, and it felt more like Jimmy Eat World was opening for them.
GG: You know what I think they should have done — when Nine Inch Nails and Queens of the Stone Age went on tour, they just did a coin toss to see who headlined and who opened.
CN: They totally should have done that. That would have been great.
GG: Yeah, I think Jimmy Eat World could have potentially owned it (as a headliner).
CN: They have such an extensive catalog that they could have played all night. To me, Jimmy Eat World is so much more endearing, and they are so much more infectious.
GG: I also feel like (Jimmy Eat World was) given a bad hand, because Third Eye Blind had a way, way more extravagant production.
CN: (Excitedly) Yes. The production value is so much higher when you’re a headlining band, and that is such as disservice (to Jimmy Eat World). I would challenge (Third Eye Blind) to strip down to just acoustics, and let’s see how they’d do. I think Jimmy Eat World would blow them out of the water.
GG: I also think, though, that the artist is supposed to have some synergy with lights of that sort. If the lights are stealing the show from the artist, the artist is not doing a good job. Plus, Jimmy Eat World played for about an hour, and Third Eye Blind played for, I think, an hour and a half?
CN: Yeah, that sounds about right.
GG: Yeah, it didn’t feel like a co-headline tour, but it seemed advertised as such.
CN: It did, because it was called the “Summer Gods Tour.” And you know what, I didn’t actually know which band would play first.
GG: Even if you have never heard Third Eye Blind before seeing them live, you could tell they have changed significantly over the past couple of decades, because you hear songs with a rap-rock influence to them, then you hear newer songs with more of a Muse or Coldplay edge to them. They contrast pretty heavily, too.
CN: Yeah, and I don’t think their new stuff is as great as their self-titled album from back in the day. That album was just so honest and so real, and I think it really resonated with their audience in a way that their new material just can’t. Their new stuff is just so much more … produced. Jimmy Eat World has never written a bad song, in my opinion.
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GG: And you saw the crowd in there.
CN: I did, I saw all those basic bitches … that waited until the very end when “Semi-Charmed Life” came on, and they knew every word. But when they played songs like “Company of Strangers” from their 2016 EP, the crowd was dead.
GG: It was a very fratty crowd.
CN: It really was.