I've talked about my love for live music in length over the years and have gone to hundreds of concerts. Even as I get older, I still try and make time to see some of my favorite acts. While 20 years ago I was able to go to just about everything, now I have to be a bit choosier. In doing so, some bands I love fall off my concert radar for years at a time.
This weekend, I had the rare opportunity to see two shows on back to back nights and catch up with some bands that were constants on my must see list back in the day. Friday night, I had the chance to see a great double bill with Incubus and Jimmy Eat World at the PNC Bank Arts Center.
Both are touring behind new albums and while I loved the new Jimmy Eat World, I was on the fence with Incubus’s latest. With Friday’s big rainstorm, it was a wet and foggy night, but I was under the roof at the Arts Center so I was good to go. Jimmy Eat World hit the stage first with a new song, Sure and Certain, off of their latest album Integrity Blues. From there it was a classic, Bleed American.
For me and my buddy, who were huge fans in the Bleed American/Futures days, we were in heaven as half the set drew from those two albums. I have always said how music can take you back to certain times and Jimmy Eat World reminded me of the early 2000s when I was finishing film school and driving to and from school listening to Bleed American.
For my buddy he remembered delivering pizza while blasting it on deliveries. Jimmy Eat World were on fire all night and we were loving every second of their set. From Pain and Work to a perfect ending trifecta of A Praise Chorus, Sweetness, and The Middle, I was taken back to some great memories.
A perfect mix of the alternative scene of the late 90s they were born out of and the emo sound they became a part of, I always felt Jimmy Eat World should have been bigger than they were, but I am glad I still have moments to see them live as I walked away so happy to hear so many of the songs I loved.
Incubus decided to do things the complete opposite way. Drawing heavily from their latest album 8, I felt a bit disappointed as I am more of an old school Incubus fan.
They did not play even one song from my favorite album S.C.I.E.N.C.E., and it wasn’t until six songs into their set when Megalomaniac was played did I truly get into the set. Don’t get me wrong, Incubus is always a great live band, I just prefer their earlier work. Mid-set, I got pulled in big time with a string of classics like Wish You Were Here, State of the Art, Pardon Me, Drive, and Dig.
Dig has grown on me over the last few years and has become a favorite for me. After that, I was kind of bummed with their song choices until set closer Warning, which is a top 5 Incubus song for me. Now, I've seen Incubus from their early days in small clubs with a few hundred people to sold out arenas and everything in between.
Even though my love for the band has wavered over the years and with their newer music not speaking to me like their older material, I still love seeing them live as they never put on a bad show. This night belonged to Jimmy Eat World, as I was so happy to be brought back to a really memorable time in my life through their music.
Saturday came and after a day with the family, I got set to head down to Asbury Park to the legendary Stone Pony for 311’s show at the Pony’s outdoor Summerstage. On the ride down, I reminisced about my first 311 show at the exact same place in 1996. They were just gaining mainstream success off of the back of their self-titled album and their hit Down.
That show was also the first time I saw the Deftones live beginning a love affair with them as I’ve seen them over 25 more times since. 311 and I started down a similar path, where I have seen them about 20 times as well over the following 10 years. Sadly, I hadn’t seen them since 2007 and every summer I had tried and not been able to make a show.
Wel,l Saturday was my lucky day. Ten years later and 311 has not faltered. While the band pulled out eight tracks from their new album for Saturday's show, it was the rest of their set, all classics throughout their entire discography that kept old school fans like me in heaven. Once Beautiful Disaster hit, I started to really think back.
311 was my summer band for years and finally after ten years, I was standing outside in Asbury Park with the ocean breeze behind me, a cold beer in my hand and one of my all-time favorite bands playing in the place I first saw them 21 years earlier. Life is good.
When the band went super old school with Freak Out, Unity, and Applied Science I realized that their first album was released almost 25 years ago and that 311 have never stopped in all those years as they are always on the road or recording. I hope they get their recognition one day in the Rock Hall as they truly deserve it.
As the night comes to an end with Creatures (For A While), I felt that I went on a 25-year journey with one of my favorite bands during these 25 years. Ten years was way too long to skip seeing them and sadly I know I missed out on some great shows, but I won’t make that mistake again.
311 are still one of the best out there and still bring it every night throwing out an energy at the crowd and receiving it back from fans that have been on this journey with them through the years. One thing I noticed at the show which I loved, were that there was a good amount of kids there.
I'm glad to see the next generation of music fans taking in live shows with their parents as it’s the way to teach them about the power of music and the live experience. I can’t wait to do the same with my daughter in a few more years. Be sure 311 is near the top of the list of bands to take her to.
For more on Jimmy Eat World’s latest, check out their album as my vinyl of the week. Take a look at some more artists on the road this summer and make sure to enjoy some outdoor live music as there is nothing better.