Good times last Thursday night, as The Spin went "fucking crazy" at the command of noted prince of darkness Ozzy Osbourne. As we made our way into the belly of Bridgestone Arena, paper trays of beer and fair food in hands, opener Slash and his posse of hired L.A. guns were midway through a faithful recreation of Guns N' Roses' "Night Train" — one of the set's five Appetite for Destruction classics, rounded out by "My Michelle," "Rocket Queen," "Sweet Child O' Mine" and "Paradise City." Slash executed solo after famed solo while doing his heel-kicks and back-bends: The former G N' R guitarist was the center of attention as mercenary vocalist (and former Scott Stapp stand-in) Myles Kennedy showcased his vocal prowess, sounding like Taylor Dayne doing an impression of a congested Axl Rose.
Later, as the house lights dimmed, the show began with a pop-culture mashup reel that digitally inserted the celeb-reality pioneer into zeitgeist-y scenarios like quibbling with Snooki and The Situation or nursing a hangover with Zach Galifianakis. The prince of the hour then did his iconic baby-steppin'-run onto the stage and — to our surprise — kicked off the proceedings with banter, hyping the crowd before a heart-stopping blast of pyro cued "Bark at the Moon." Heads bangin', we were stoked!
With the singer's latest single, "Let Me Hear You Scream," standing as the lone non-classic selection of the night, the show's setlist was about as perfect a catalog sampling as fans could hope for, boasting a cherry-picked onslaught of '80s solo staples ("I Don't Know," "Suicide Solution," "Shot in the Dark," "Mr. Crowley," "Crazy Train") and early-'90s power ballads ("Road to Nowhere," "Mama, I'm Coming Home") that cued the cell-phone/lighter galaxy. But it was the handful of classic Black Sabbath cuts that were the night's highlight: "Fairies Wear Boots" was a pleasant surprise, while "Iron Man" and "Paranoid" still inspired the fist-pumps. "War Pigs" was all-caps-worthy EPIC.
As fun as the onstage proceedings were to watch, they were nothing compared to the endless enthusiasm of a guy clad in a blue Kool-Aid shirt, who stood on a folding chair screaming at the top of his lungs, hyping the crowd around him and outstretching his arms like he was mid-ascent to heaven. Thanks for making our night, Kool-Aid Man!
Ten years ago, if you'd asked The Spin what we'd be doing with ourselves on a Friday night in 2011, we probably would have casually replied as follows: "I dunno. Probably, like, writing a review of a Jimmy Eat World or Pedro the Lion show for, like, a newspaper or something." And then we'd have indifferently swept our hair out of our eyes. In this instance, Teenage Spin was right.
When we rolled into The Cannery Ballroom parking lot, we sensed an uncommon amount of earnestness billowing forth from the venue and into the February air. It was former Pedro the Lion frontman David Bazan. The Cannery was packed with gauged ears, Volcom hats, be-hoodied snugglers and even one particularly gigantic mohawk. Still, it was worth braving if only for the Pedro songs — "Big Trucks" and "When They Really Get to Know You They Will Run," most notably — while backed only by a bassist and a drummer. Bazan was joined on vocals by Jim Adkins — the "Jimmy" in Jimmy Eat World — for "Criticism as Inspiration," a particularly Christian-guilt-injected slice of nostalgia.
J.E.W. kicked off their set with "Bleed American," the titular tune from their 2001 hit record. (You may recall that the song was renamed "Salt Sweat Sugar" in the days of post-9/11 oversensitivity.) Though he's perhaps a bit more svelte these days, Adkins was pretty much just as we remembered him — same wet haircut and everything. We remember a shit-ton of lyrics from Bleed American.
So J.E.W. certainly know which side their emo bread is emo buttered on, as they front-loaded their set with plenty of BA numbers and saved the newer ones for "the middle" (wink). A lot of the mid-set material blurred into an indistinguishable, aggressively heartfelt haze of ditties about "good-nights" and "goodbyes" and so forth. But at the tail end of their set — as if to prove that they still have our number — they busted out a couple of songs from 1999's Clarity, and encored with "The Middle" and "Sweetness."
All right, listen: Because of the era from which they emerged, Jimmy Eat World still have more than their fair share of emo stuck to them. But they're a power-pop band, and power pop has long been the soundtrack to sappy-as-balls perpetual 17-year-olds' lives. At least these sappy sons of bitches can actually play well live. That's the story we're going with if anyone questions our cred.
Next week: relevant bands! Email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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