Picking up from where we left off in CF Goes To Poland (Part 1) today, I’m still in Poland, and I’ve got stories. They might not be interesting, but they are stories.
I kept myself pretty busy yesterday for my second day in Warsaw. I was up bright and early (even for me – thanks sun) and didn’t want to waste a second of the day, so I headed out around 7AM to source a latte.
It’s been tempting to try a Twix-flavoured latte here, but I’ve managed to keep away from them so far despite them being at so many shops. Why are people in Warsaw so into Twix?
My first stop after about an hour’s walk was the Warsaw Uprising Museum. If you’re not familiar, the Warsaw Uprising was a resistant effort by the Polish after the invasion of Germany and the soviets in World War 2.
A couple weeks back I finished reading a book by Kelly Rimmer called “The Warsaw Orphan” which is a fictional piece about the true story of a young girl who worked to save Jewish orphans from the ghetto, and it focuses heavily on the uprising. I really recommend the book because it helps paint a vivid picture of what it might’ve been like to live in Warsaw during this time – I’ve been thinking about it a fair bit as I’ve been walking around. During the war, there was a heavy duty brick wall in between Warsaw for the Polish and Warsaw for the Jewish ghetto, where soldiers would go to round up Jews to bring them to the concentration camps. Part of that wall is still in the city and it’s really remarkable to think about living through that.
The museum was actually pretty great as far as museums go, full of artifacts from the uprising period; uniforms, clothing, badges made from tin and ID cards that you’d need to identify yourself to soldiers as you made your way through town, the small ration of bread and water the average person would be allotted that barely fits into your hand, and, not for the weak hearted, graphic images of the death and despair endured.
I won’t get into the specifics of the uprising here but if you’re interested in war history, it’s worth reading into. I couldn’t imagine having to go through that – it really puts things into some serious perspective. It’s one of those things that kind of makes you feel like a terrible person for ever complaining about literally anything at all.
I spent most of the day afterwards just wandering around Warsaw getting confused in the underground tunnel system that you need to use the cross major intersections and taking it all in. Admittedly, I was a little distracted and couldn’t think about much else other than the Jimmy Eat World show I’d be catching later that evening.
Let’s talk about that!
The band was playing at a small venue called Klub Proxima which sits on the university campus about an hour’s walk from where I’m staying. Doors were set for 7PM so naturally I started to make my way around 3PM because I can’t help but be extra early for literally everything in my life now – plus, I hadn’t been over to this part of town yet and it gave me something new to look at.
As I crossed a bridge near the library to get over to the university side, I was stopped by a man who started speaking Polish to me. This has actually happened a lot more than I expected, with people thinking I’m some expert Polish speaker, so I’ve awkwardly had to repeat the phrase, “Sorry, I don’t speak Polish well” several times now – the good news is most of these people have a great grasp of English! And here’s the other thing that keeps happening to me – people keep asking me for directions. Which is hilarious because they’re usually also holding a smart phone and also because of how insanely easy it is for me to get myself all turned around even when I’m using my own google maps. Anyway, this guy was looking for his Uber pick-up, so we took a detour from my own route and I walked him down off the bridge and helped him find the Toyota Prius waiting for him. Along the way we chatted a bit – he was Polish but born in Russia and told me that as a Polish-Canadian who had never been to Poland before, I was from “Part-land”. Silly!
There’s a pretty big park on the way to the campus that I took my time walking through after. Actually, Warsaw has a bunch of really great parks, they’ve been a big highlight of my visit so far. Toronto just doesn’t accommodate great green spaces like this and it’s a shame because they’re really relaxing, especially when you’ve got a couple hours on your hand and the sun’s been beating down all day.
I grabbed food to go from a nearby American grill called Jeff’s. It looks just like your run-of-the-mill grill back in Canada, full of licence plates and beer-related decor all over the walls and ceilings. Sure I would’ve liked to grab some Polish food at the moment, but I hadn’t eaten much all day and this was right near the venue.
The burger was massive, as I’d expect of any American grill house and bonus – my water came as a pair of two since it was happy hour! Big score. And now either I was really just super hungry or this was actually one of the better tasting cheeseburgers I’ve ever had and not at all as messy as it looked like it’d be when I pulled it out. The place was packed, too, so I guess everyone already knows how great Jeff’s is.
A short while later I made my way over to scope out the venue and see if I could spot the band’s tour bus (this part wasn’t particularly challenging).
I was pretty stoked when I saw the venue in person. My first thought: wow this isn’t that big at all. My second thought: Oh it’s attached to a dance studio, so it’s actually even smaller than it looks!
I’ve largely only ever seen Jimmy Eat World play larger venues in Toronto/Mississauga, or at last year’s Lollapalooza festival in Chicago, which are not bad places to catch bands but they are a vastly different live music experience from a place like Proxima.
Back in 2020, my desire to see this band play a smaller venue was so high that I was going to buy 3 tickets to their then-Surviving tour; Toronto (of course), but then London and Kingston, as well, because those would be much smaller shows. Of course that tour got nixed and along the way a lot of music venues in those towns didn’t make it through the pandemic, so I’d about given up on having that experience in Ontario when I made the decision to attend this show.
I hung out back near the bus for a bit hoping the band might surface and I’d be able to grab them for a quick chat, but that never ended up happening; Instead I mostly just watched the tour crew load in gear and thought about how it’d be rad to work on a tour like that – it’s way less cool to do this at the Royal York Hotel as I do back home. At one point a couple approached me an, first in Polish but then in English, asked me where the entrance of the venue was. I started to explain how to get there from where we were but once again I found myself escorting these people directly to the doors and seeing them off there. Along the way, the guy told me that Jim had pointing them in the direction of the venue but they’d gotten confused. “No worries, once you see the entrance you’ll never forget it,” – it’s so obvious, you guys.
This perked me up a bit though. Jim had told you? Jim? Is out and about on campus? I almost didn’t believe it. How could it be possible that I hadn’t run into these guys yet today? I was starting to worry I wouldn’t see them at all outside of the show.
And then that felt insane to me, to be worried about such a thing. I’d never made a conscious effort to find a band in a city before and the amount of times I caught myself wondering where they might be that day was a little annoying to me. “You’re in Warsaw, Jaimee! Isn’t that something?!”
Well, yes, but I’d boarded a 8 and a half hour flight for THIS show. For THIS day. “You haven’t even had any pierogies yet!” There is PLENTY of time for pierogies, Jaimee but Jimmy Eat World are only in Warsaw to-day!
As I sat in another park, this time in the university quad, my mood shifted a bit. I went from optimistic explorer to… how can I describe it… bummed out tourist who needed a juice box. A bizarre combination of being a little tired from wandering around the last two days and the realization that I might not see the guys to say hey after coming all this way.
“It’ll still be a great show,” I had to remind myself. “Cheer up, kid, you’re in Warsaw”.
I will say, as much as I don’t mind doing a lot of things myself, traveling solo can be a bit of a bummer. The food never tastes as good when you’re eating it alone, there are so many moments where you’re like, “hey that’s really cool over there,” and you’re just talking to yourself a lot, taking bad selfies outside of historical monuments that you’ll never show anyone.I’d never try to discourage someone from travelling solo because it’s a great thing to do for yourself but, you really do have to be prepared for those lulls where your brain likes to remind you that you’re alone and a little bored and maybe all these character flaws that it’ll list for you unabashedly as you’re drinking your morning coffee are why you have so few friends now and had no one to take this trip with you big fucking loser.
They were letting people in the venue early so I made my way in around 6:40PM (7PM door time). There was only one band slated to open so I was mildly stoked on that, too. I’m only turning 32 this summer but I’m not going to lie, early-band set times are my new favourite way to enjoy shows – I blame my internal clock for thinking 4 or 5AM are appropriate times to get the day going.
I checked out the merch table first to see if there was any rad designs to pick up. Jimmy Eat World had special Euro-tour dates shirts made up and those were what really caught my eye. One of them looked entirely too similar to my existing Phoenix Sessions tee (without being as cool) so I knew if I was going to make a buy, it’d be the other one. They also didn’t have any 555 books laid out, which is actually what I was looking for, but I imagine they were too cumbersome to bring overseas.
Then I grabbed myself a Pepsi from the bar (it was warm, ew), and parked myself center-left in front of the stage. I was second row and planted some firm footing. I was NOT gonna get pushed around to a poor standing position like I was at the Metro Chicago.
The stage was absolutely tiny and I was stoked again. This would be a rad show for sure. I marveled at the fact that there was absolutely no space for a stage banner and that the lighting was as basic as it could be for a stage this size. Proxima is the kind of bar you’d catch a local up and coming band in, but tonight it’d be awash with all the experience and practice of seasoned pro’s. Can’t go wrong there.
While my inner monologue kept trying to remind me that I was the only dingus in the bar silly enough to hop a plane to Europe for this gig and that I had no one to really talk to, unlike everyone else who had clearly at least arrived in pairs, I pushed it out. This was going to be the best show I’d ever see this band play, probably, and I was… so close to the stage. Rad.
A couple tall dudes tried to muscle there way past me ahead of the opener but I kept my ground. I knew they might sneak their way past later when things got going, but I’d be damned if I was going to let it happen before Together Pangea.
Speaking of which – Together Pangea! I’d never actually heard this band before outside of a couple clips I snagged on Instagram before the show so I had zero expectations, but generally my thought process in this situation is, “if they landed a tour with Jimmy Eat World, they have to be pretty damn good.”
They’re from L.A but I’d describe their sound as being more surf-inspired-rock or as having rockabilly roots. It’s super dance-able, upbeat and fun. I couldn’t understand most of the words the singer was singing through the set, and honestly the ones that did made me think that this was exactly the type of band I’d listen to in high school but not my 30’s, but it was a great high energy set and a lot of fun to listen to. The lead guitarist is great, he had some pretty wicked solos and some unusual dance moves. And it was pretty sweet to see the drummer contributing some backing vocals. It’s always a good look to me.
They played for 40 minutes or so and after enduring the longest 20 minute changeover ever (haha), the lights went down and it was time for our main event.
I’d seen the band mention that they brought back same introduction from the Futures tour way back when (that was my first Jimmy-show) so I was hoping they’d still do it on this run.
And they did!
I don’t know how to describe it really, but it’s just a slow build-up of repeating notes until the band gets to the stage. They didn’t run it as long as I recall it from the Futures tour, but it still built the same eager anticipation I had for that gig, now here in Warsaw. “Futures” the song will always hold a particularly dear place in my heart so I was pretty stoked they started with it – it didn’t take long for me to change from somber-Canadian tourist in a strange city to pumped-up-Jimmy-fan listening to her favourite songs in Warsaw (Warsaw, Jaimee!).
The band railed through their hits and I clutched onto my purse tight with my left, worried that during the set I’d either lose my phone or worse, my apartment keys (300PLN if you lost em!) because the bag wasn’t terribly secure and it’s not the first time I’ve lost things at a rowdy gig. My right hand stayed pretty firmly in the air through as I jumped, sang, yelled, and woo’d at the appropriate intervals. I don’t know what the crowd looked like from the stage, but my little area had a lot of fun getting into the set and I made a few drunk-Polish-moshing friends along the way. At times I wasn’t sure if were were serenading the band or each other, them with their thick Polish accents and me with my loosely-inspired-by-Jim vocal stylings. There was even some crowd surfing, especially by one blonde-Polish girl who almost looked like she was stuck on a looping elevator every time she went back up. I’d end up speaking to her briefly after the show and she’d offer to take my photo with the guy’s – very polite and probably a little drunk. My kinda people.
There’s only a couple things I want to speak to about the show itself. It pretty much goes without saying but the band was tight as hell – this is probably the best I’ve ever seen them perform. Rick was a little less animated than I’m used to seeing him on the bigger stages, but all in still having a great time of it – and Tom seemed in a better mood than I last saw him in Chicago, too – he even smiled a couple times! A big highlight for me at Jimmy Eat World shows is belting along to “Blister” with Tom. I will forever lose my shit to that song, although this time I was thinking about how it took me 8 and a half hours on a plane to see this gig, rather than trudging across the United States (that’s still on the bucket list).
When I was first learning to write rock songs when I started playing guitar as a kid, “Blister was one of those songs I just HAD to learn so that I could learn how to write a song just as great one day – I was and am still really into the dual-vocal-lines. I don’t know if we’re there yet, it’s a tough one to top. In the meantime this one might be moving up on the cover-song priority list.
I’m not often so close to the stage that I get to really watch Zach play so last night really was a treat for me, with the full kit just a few feet from where I was standing. I love watching great drummers, I’ve always been pretty enamored with the instrument and never really get tired of watching people play and he sounded great, super clear and extra precise.
And Jim was actually on literal fire last night, that’s why he sweats so much, I reckon. But seriously – I’ll save you all the part where I gush over how wildly attractive he is when he performs – but Jim has always been one of my favourite people to watch on stage.
When I was first really getting into rock music, it didn’t take me very long to settle in on my favourite musicians because a lot of it comes down to their stage presence, and a lot of what I think about for myself as a musician is how I can better emulate and borrow from what they do. Because as good as your songs are, they’re infinitely better when you can not only play them well, but look good doing it. And Jim’s got some of the best stage presence in the game, it’s actually really endearing and a lot of fun to be in this audience for that alone. He doesn’t have a lot of stage banter like a lot of my other favourites, but when he does it feels sincere and human – when he says he’s grateful for the band having been together for so long and to have been able to play for fans like us, you known he means it. He’s incredibly visually expressive otherwise, I am low-key really into his facial expressions when he delivers certain lines in these songs. It’s funny because it almost stands out more because it’s in such contrast to the other guys stage presence which is more laid-back and chilled out – but I think this is true of a lot of bands, there’s always one member that really takes it to another level, visually.
“Did they play “Something Loud?”
They did! And it was awesome!
The capped off the show with an encore and I was stoked on that choice, too – they went with 23, another one I’m extra fond of.
It’s funny but I’ve heard all the songs they played hundreds if not thousands of times now, but I really never get tired of them. There are very few bands that I can say that for – there’s just something special about them and I’ll never be able to fully pin it down. While I know these songs will all be celebrated long after the band packs it in for the last time (which is hopefully a very long time from now), I am still so compelled to showcase them all through the Jaimee Eat World project – I guess this is my way of playing my little part in something big.
As the last song finished the band took a sec to fully embrace the crowd, give a wave or a modest bow – and this is the first time I think I’ve seen them do this, take this extra second to be fully present in that moment.
I pay keen attention to when bands do this – I don’t think they realize that people are. It is just as special of a moment for us in the crowd as I imagine it to be for you on stage, so thanks for taking the time.
As the house lights went on, I took a second to scope out the floor. At some point mid-set, I realized there had been a casualty of the show – my beloved Fitbit.
When I go to concerts most of the time nowadays, I’m not usually right up close and personal and jumping around like a teenager, so it’s always a little weird to have to worry about things like losing my apartment keys, phone or… seriously, it’s gone. My fitbit is gone. It was literally the only thing strapped to my body and it is out of here, lost underneath the stage, surely, to be found weeks from now by someone who was looking for a more important personal item like a phone or ID, and they’ll say, “hey look, a fitbit!”
And to think I had just bought brand new replacement straps. C’est la vie… or should I say, takie jest życie.
And so I went back to the merch table where the bassist and lead singer from Together Pangea were still hanging out selling shirts. There was a bit of a crowd at the Jimmy table so I took a second to say hey to the TP dudes and snap an atrocious photo with my now-soaking wet hair slicked back on my head.
They were really nice dudes. Turns out the singer has spent some time living in Toronto with the guys from a band called Hooded Fang.
I snagged a shirt, which is how you know I really actually dug the set, and made my way into the Jimmy table line-up for the European tour shirt I’d had my eye on earlier. The girl running the merch table was on top of things so I didn’t have to wait long at all to get mine – I appreciate speedy sales people.
Parched as a lost camel in the Sahara, I made my way back to the bar to try and grab a water but when I got there they were already counting out the til – I asked a bartender if they were closed and he responded, “they’re outside,” which obviously didn’t answer my question but I… went outside.
I don’t know why I do these things.
But I wanted to be outside anyways. Now was my official last opportunity to run into Jimmy Eat World and say hey, so I walked out back to the bus where a bunch of fans were already waiting.
While I was waiting I got a couple texts from I’m not sure who. One of them turned out to be a girl I had met outside the Chopin airport when I arrived and was waiting for the 175 bus. Turned out she was supposed to meet her friend at the airport but hadn’t been able to reach her because she wasn’t answering her messages or calls. So I let her borrow my phone for a bit to use Whatsapp until they were able to connect. Of course, as it were to happen, this new friend and I had already gotten onto the bus by the time she reached her friend, so then we had to sort out how to get her back to the airport to meet her. It all ended well enough anyways – Casey (that ended up being her name), reached out the next day to confirm that she was able to find her friend and to see if I wanted to hang with them while we were all in Warsaw. Might be doing that tonight – it’s always funny to meet people when you’re on vacation in a way like this, equally just trying to survive in a place you know nothing about.
Admittedly, I started to get a little nervous while waiting for the band to come out of the venue. So as I do, I started hyper-tweeting my shenanigans from the Jaimee Eat World account. In my mind at that time though, a barrage of, “what should I say? If I only have enough time for 1 question, what’s the most important one? I wonder if they’ll remember me? Seriously, Jaimee, what do we say? How do we say it? Why am I so shit at talking to these guys?”
And then Tom appeared out from behind me and was spotted by some fans. I turned around after hearing him say hey and was literally startled by how close he was.
Holy shit they’re here! As if they’d be anywhere else in this moment.
I waited patiently for my turn to chat with Tom, growing more and more unsure about what I should say the longer I had to wait. He seemed to realize I was waiting and nodded over at me asking if I wanted a picture, since I was holding my phone.
“Oh! Yeah I do! But also I wanna show you something first,” I already had my Instagram page up with my Jaimee Eat World account rolling.
Here’s the thing guys – I have sent a stupid amount of messages through to the guys’ social media channels over the last couple years about this project. Like an insane amount, and I tag them in just about everything. And while I’d been reasonably sure that they’d seen at least some of it since I kicked this whole thing off, I wasn’t like… sure sure. Because you have to understand from my perspective it seems insane to me that they’d have the time or interest in actually going through this stuff. Especially with the way I ramble on about nothing half the time.
So when Tom replied, “oh yea, I’ve seen it, I’ve actually gone through it all. We’re like insta buddies.” I just about died.
“Oh, you’ve seen it?”
“Yeah I went through it!”
“Oh wow, well, cool, I’m really happy you’ve seen it!”
Virtually nothing could spoil this night now. I finally knew for sure they’d seen it and I don’t know why but it was really important to me that I knew and verified it in person.
Thanks for checking out the page, Tom!
I really wanted to ask him what he thought of Chachi but I held my tongue and let him get to talking to other waiting fans.
And boy there were quite a few of em all closing in on Jim just a few feet away.
It’s actually a pretty bizarre sight to see so many people slowly creeping towards one person, and then you realize that you’re also there and part of it and you’re saying to yourself, “don’t be creepy”.
As with Tom I waited patiently while most of the crowd made their way through getting their albums signed and pictures taken. It’s actually really fun to watch other people be all stoked to say hi to your favourite musicians, like it’s somehow extra validating in some way and just nice to see how well they take it all in. It’s particularly fun for me to watch Jim in those moments because there are a lot of quirky things he does that remind me a lot of myself, like the goofy facial expressions he makes to mix it up for himself between snaps and the general pronounced way he responds to things when he knows he’s speaking to someone who’s English isn’t great.
It took some time but eventually the crowd thinned out just enough that I was able to catch his attention from beside the steaming hot pile of garbage I was now standing near.
And it should surprise none of you to know that I wasn’t quite sure what to say or where to start, and I explained just about as much to him to begin.
Even though I had already cleared it with Tom that I was doing the Jaimee Eat World project and I was pretty sure Jim just know about it, too, I had to mention it again, for safety. What can I say, nothing is real to me until it’s been spoken about in person.
Jim seemed surprised when I told him, especially that I had already done 20 songs and was working towards finishing the discography. I can’t tell if he’s just got a good poker face or if he legitimately didn’t know but I have my suspicions.
After I got that out of the way and explained I’d come all the way from Canada to see them, which he was again surprised about because “yeah that’s a long way” (lol), I told him I had a couple other things to say and ask but didn’t want to eat up the time of the other people who were still waiting to talk to him and that I’d wait til they were done.
Which was then funny because what happened next was this weird limbo where Jim would take a photo or say something to a local Pole and then turn back to me and offer me another question. Most of which starting with me saying, “okay so now I’d like to ask…”
I’ll pause here to say, as awkward as this type of conversation is to have with a bunch of random strangers around just listening to me work my way through my question bank, most of which are all things I’ve ever publicly asked the band or in some way tried to message them about previously – meaning to myself, I sound like a total broken record – I really felt like it was entirely too kind of Jim to afford me so much time.
One of my major questions was actually about the bands studio in Arizona. Because I’m working towards my next full length album, I’ve been giving some thought to where I want to track out of. So I had to ask if they ever rent it out for other engineers and bands to use.
Which I was told, “not really”. And then he started to explain why but it really wasn’t necessary to get into the details about it. Not to me anyway. Some bands do this but a lot of bands with their own studio space will keep it to themselves or on a strict family and friends basis, so I was well prepared for him to say they don’t.
Of course I have it in my mind that it would be insanely cool to track at least 1 of the Jaimee Eat World covers in that space, which I said as much to Jim but added, “you can say no.”
His final response on the matter? “Probably not.”
So you’re saying there’s a chance.
In my final turn in the hot seat, I pulled away from the music biz side of things and got a little personal.
A lot of what I said next I’d already said in some capacity online either in these blogs, so I would delve too deep into it, but basically I finally was in a well enough mindset to thank Jim and the band for putting out so much music over the years to help get me through things, and in particular to Jim for being open about his own struggles because his interviews over the years helped me kick my own bad habits.
Getting sober is really difficult and especially when you work in the music industry where so much of it is centered around drinking and partying. So it was really important for me to say that out loud to Jim because I don’t see much support in this space.
Almost as expected Jim didn’t quite know what to say in response to this one and I didn’t wanna trudge on about it too much. But on the shot that you might read this eventually I really appreciate you listening.
We talked about a couple other things but that was the bulk of it. Before leaving Jim reached out for another hand shake but I asked for a hug. This is a little sad to admit but I haven’t actually hugged anyone in like well over 2 years now, and it’s amazing how you can miss something so simple.
Talking with Jim last night reminded me a lot of the first time I talked to him outside the Phoenix Concert Theatre in Toronto, where I had a bunch of silly questions and he was just doing his normal Jim thing trying to be nice and answer without leaving anyone else out. Which probably would’ve also been the case in Chicago if I hadn’t been so nervous and in a not so great mood. Needless to say I feel a lot better about how this meeting went.
As Jim made his way back to the bus a fan asked if Zsch and Rick would be coming out, and Jim sarcastically replied, “well they kind of have to, this is their ride”.
Classic Jim. [jimfromoffice.jpg]
I walked a little away from the crowd to recompose myself. I’d never met Zach and Rick in person so this was like, kind of a big deal.
It would be a little while before they surfaced and by then most people had taken off, leaving just me, a man and his young son.
Zach came out first and I almost had to do a double take.
I let the dad and his son (Paul, as it turns out) chat first because I am not a monster. I’m not great with kids ages but this boy couldn’t have been older than 4.
The nice part about doing this is you get to listen in on the conversation, mostly talking about drumming and how it was to play Something Loud for one of the first times. And the dad asked Zach for some advice for the new little drummer boy.
“Just have fun,” he said.
This is truly the only advice that matters in music.
It seemed to me Zach didn’t want to hang about too long so I kept our interaction short and sweet (drumming is exhausting). Told him the set was great (truly) and that I came from Canadaland. He told me I sounded Canadian which, I’m not wholly sure what that means but it’s always a little funny to hear.
Like east coast Newfie Canadian or like surf-style BC Canadian or like Bostonian-Toronto Canadian or like prairie farmer Canadian?
And for good measure I told him about Jaimee Eat World and he told me he’d check it out. Thanks Zach! Hope you like midi drumming.
Last up was Rick and it was a short while later that he’d emerge.
I was pretty sure the band would have to high tail it out of there soon and I knew I had an hour walk back to my apartment still, so as soon as I recognized Rick walking up, I snuck ahead of the 4 year old.
I told him how sick it was to catch the band play such a small venue and that I made the trip from Canada for it, which he seemed super appreciative of. Ricks got such a great energy about him, one of those people that it’s hard not to feel comfortable around.
I am insanely happy to have been able to shake everyone’s hand in person finally after all these years.
After all was said and done, I wished Rick a great rest of the tour and made my walk home, happy as a clam in mud.
Thanks for the good times, Jimmy Eat World! Til next time!