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Episode 1: Introduction
Static Unveiled is the official podcast accompaniment to the Jaimee Eat World project. Each episode will showcase both the bands original recording and my own cover of a song and along the way I’ll tell you a little bit more about myself, why these songs are so important, some current events and issues and hopefully along the way we can have some positive conversations surrounding mental health and how we can use music to cope with our greatest challenges.
If you have a Jimmy Eat World related project or cover you’d like to promote, please reach out and let me know about it!
There is no set schedule for this podcast but I’ll be doing my best to keep each episode reasonably spaced apart from each other – after all, I still have to actually put together about like 120 songs.
On the next episode, we’ll start with The Middle.
About a week ago I was making my way to a venue called History here in Toronto because Jimmy Eat World were in town.
At the time, I was sure this might be my last one.
I had just finished a short shift running audio for a group of bankers who were going on about revenue taxes and the strides and misses of Government Canada. Super riveting stuff – I couldn’t get out of there fast enough.
I had brought a change of clothes and fumbled my way out of my uniform in a small bathroom stall before slapping a bunch of makeup on my face so that I looked like a human being again, chugging back a Diet Coke in the process like it was a PBR or something else equally unappealing.
As I was leaving my workplace, which happens to be one of Toronto’s high-end hotel chains, one of the hotel servers stopped me with a smile. “You must be going on a date!” he exclaimed.
“I’m not!” I replied just as happily. But I was dressed as though I might be, so I could understand the confusion. This was the most dressed up I’d ever been for any concert and the only real difference was that I was in a pair of boots with a heel that I’d picked up months ago but hadn’t had a chance to wear yet.
This will shock none of you but I really don’t get out much anymore. Long gone are the days where I’d be out every night with friends at bars and shows and instead most nights I’m tucked away by 9PM to be ready for my very early mornings which tend to start around 4AM.
So even though it wasn’t a date, because I’d be attending the show alone, I was treating myself as though it could be – part of my ever ongoing efforts to return myself to some state of normalcy and balance after a very trying few years.
If you ask me that’s one thing that wasn’t really talked about enough with the pandemic – that there would be an adjustment period for us all making our ways back into whatever we consider a normal daily life and routine.
At the time of writing this today, I still haven’t really settled into one, and that’s been its own challenge, but we can get into that a little later.
I walked up to Queen street to grab the street car headed Eastbound to the beaches. It’s been so long since I’ve taken one that I had to remind myself about the process and to double check which one I was getting on, else I might not make it to my destination in time.
I was perpetually late for things as a kid and as an adult that has developed me into some sort of neurotic freak who is almost always obscenely early for things and left to sit on my hands waiting for everyone else.
Tonight would be no exception.
I had been scheduled to work until 6PM, and I needed time to change and about 45 minutes on the street car. I ended up leaving work by 6:15 and even with the streetcar short-turning and me deciding to walk the final 20 or so minutes to the venue, I was still pretty early. 7:20 or so, not long after doors had opened. I really was aiming for closer to 8.
I don’t really like arriving this early to any gig because ever since I quit drinking I’m entirely too aware of how shit I am at starting up conversation with strangers, no matter how good I feel in my fancy date night outfit.
I’m fine if someone else starts it and gets the ball rolling, some might even call me pleasant, but if I have to make the first move I’m like a boulder trapped in concrete.
And then as I stand around unsure what to look at I start to feel entirely too aware of the fact that I’m at another gig alone and everyone else around me brought a friend.
There’s a whole slew of reasons why I attend so many events solo these days and no matter how much fun I have during them or how comfortable I feel being there or how sure of my choice to do so, there’s always at least a couple minutes where I find myself wondering how I wound up there and I have to push away those feelings of doubt and dread that see that as their opportunity to meddle with me internally.
It’s decently cold in Toronto this time of year already so once I got inside I found my way over to coat check to drop off mine. $4.50 for a hanger at History. I tipped the guy $2 for having to stand in there through the show – it’s the least I could do.
If you’ve never been to History, the venue will take you by surprise. It’s unlike any venue I’ve ever been to in Toronto, designed more like a stadium bar than anything else with huge wide open spaces and a cool balcony area that anyone can sit in.
Even once the rest of the audience arrived, it didn’t feel terribly crowded because there’s just so much space between everything.
I caught myself glancing up to the balcony wanting to check it out ahead of the first band but opted against it. My neurotic self still likes to get to the gig early enough at least to plant my feet in a good position to see as much of the band as I can, so instead I wandered over to the bar to grab another Diet Coke or Pepsi.
The bartender asked me if I was a DD and I laughed a little, “No, but I don’t drink anymore. So I guess I kind of always am now.” It was the first time I’d realized that. Turns out they’ll give you a free pop if you’re a DD, so I lucked out and didn’t have to pay for my drink.
Date night was already a massive success compared to previous efforts. If you haven’t read it yet, I’m the girl that was asked out by a guy known as Toronto Batman a few months back and he brought me back to his hoarders den, offered me a Triscuit, and when I wouldn’t respond to his advances, made me watch a random episode of Better Call Saul Season 6 while telling me about all the times he’d met the actors. I wrote about that and you can read it on my website, but back to this story.
I don’t keep up with social media as well as you might think so I didn’t even know that the show opener Charly Bliss wasn’t going to be performing until the other band, Pony, hit the stage instead.
I watched this tiny young woman enter the center of the stage and was like, “Wait, is there a second opener? Did they grab a local opener?” To her left was an equally young-looking guitarist with shaggy blonde hair; behind her a drummer, maybe a couple years older – and then the bassist, who seemed a little out of place in this mixture, at least a decade over the rest.
I don’t say that to be judgemental about it, it’s just something I notice because whenever I’m watching bands these days I’m one of those annoying fans that’s taking note of what other bands are doing, dressing, saying, selling… it’s really the best way to help hone yourself in on a direction for your own thing – see what moves you, or deters you, and apply it to yourself.
On bandcamp the band Pony describe themselves as grunge-pop and while I have no idea what that really is, I can also say it’s not what I would’ve described their set. It’s indie pop, with a cute tiny bit of snark, as much as any 16 year old girl could muster to her mom and dad on the Thursday night before prom after she fails her Biology test, leaving her dreams of attending the big dance hanging in the wind.
They played well, sounded alright, and if you’re into indie-pop you probably would’ve really enjoyed them.
It wasn’t for me.
I was a little disappointed in seeing a local opener over Charly Bliss, even though I am a strong advocate for touring bands selecting exactly that for their gigs as they roll through each town.
And on some level I was mildly annoyed again, watching a band who I didn’t personally feel up to par with a band like Jimmy Eat World get such a great opportunity, and I wasn’t even convinced they understood how lucky they were to be playing to this audience.
In between their mildly swayable-indie-pop-rock, Pony shilled about their merch table. “We have weighted blankets!” they’d proclaim numerous times.
Of course you do.
What happened to selling your record? Hell, just play your songs and we’ll decide if we want to investigate your merch table.
Anyway, that’s a whole other conversation.
As more people shuffled in I started to regret my decision to wear heels to a rock show. On the one hand it gave me a greater vantage point, I was at least 2 inches taller, but on the other hand I knew I’d be more comfortable in my sneakers and I’d be able to dance about a bit more.
But that was okay, I was here to watch, for what I still believed would be the last time.
I’ve seen this band live more than any other band, starting from the time I was 15. I’ve seen them play great shows, and I’ve seen them play just-okay shows. There’s at least one or two that my memory is hazy at best.
I saw them co-headline with Taking Back Sunday for the Futures album from the second row of the floor at Arrow Hall. I saw them play the Phoenix from the back of the venue, and again from the middle of the floor. I trekked out to Chicago to see them play Lollapalooza and Metro Bar. I stood in the empty 400’s of the Molson Amphitheater while they opened for Incubus – leaving immediately after their set and skipping Incubus entirely. I flew to Poland to watch them play a tiny college bar in Warsaw.
And now today I was at History. Maybe 7 or so people from the stage, somewhere in between Jim and Tom where a mosh pit was about to break loose.
I was expecting their usual set since that’s what I’d come to see more often than not – the hits, the highlight reel.
And that was one of the reasons that night I wasn’t sure I’d attend another. After as many shows as I’d seen, it starts to feel like you’re going to the movie theater to watch the same film, every 3 years or so, for a premium price even though you know you could watch more comfortably at home. And I know, I know – a video will never replace a concert but, there are a lot of bands out there playing shows that I haven’t seen yet.
I understand why bands stick to the same set list for so many shows, but I also have a really hard time grappling with bands with 30 year career timelines seemingly only knowing how to play 15 songs.
To be clear, this is just what I’ve noticed about the heavy-hitter bands that come to Toronto. It’s almost always the same show, I guess because they think we don’t listen to their records.
I was absolutely stunned when over in Chicago the band played Bleed American in full.
“Do they do this often in the States?!”
I think often about the way my favourite American bands are presented to us here in Canada versus the way they’re spoken about in their home country and cities. It seems we are so far removed from the experience that other fans receive and I find myself questioning why that is.
But that’s another one of those things that we can probably talk about a little later.
Without getting too deep into it, it turned out that this show at History was one of, if not the best set I’d ever seen this band play.
While I enjoyed the experience more in Poland, because I love small venues and I was in the mood to jump and dance and sing along and had a great time doing that with a bunch of strangers that night, the overall show and set-list for History was far better.
This was a real show.
They played alternate versions of songs that you otherwise don’t get a chance to hear, like an acoustic cut of “555”, a high-energy throwback to “No Sensitivity” – and Tom, one of the world’s most underrated rock vocalists and songwriters if you ask me, no doubt because of having to stand ever so slightly under Jim’s overwhelming shadow in this band, performed not one but two songs. Fan favorite “Blister” and, one of my personal favorites, “Rockstar”.
Couple those gem performances with the fact that the rhythm section was on fire and sprinkle a few jokes and casual stage banter into the mix that I’d come to love and appreciate from my favorite rock bands over the years, and you had yourself a real show that was worth the effort of getting to and the price of admission.
If I didn’t already own an egregious amount of Jimmy Eat World merchandise, I probably would’ve bought a new tee just to cap off the experience. A memento from a night worth getting out of bed for.
The band was in such a great mood that I could feel it – that little extra something that so many bands lack when they’re performing that I can only describe as a genuine desire and interest in putting on a great show.
This was the professional rock band Jimmy Eat World that I’d come to hear so much about but felt like I was experiencing for the first time.
There’s a difference seeing a band when you’re 15 for the first time versus over 15 years later. When you’re 15 you don’t really have much to gauge it all against and you’re just excited to be out of the house at a show with your friends – half the time the band on stage doesn’t even matter and if you’re still learning how to play instruments yourself and have never been in a band, you have no real understanding of how difficult or not what the bands is doing is.
When you’re an adult it’s way more of a conscious choice – as Jim was keen to note, this Toronto audience could have chosen anywhere else to be that night but we all chose to spend it together at History with these guys who had driven from Arizona to play some songs that made their way over our airwaves at some point.
Most of the people around me were my age or older. Mid 30’s, early 40’s.
That’s who was in the pit that night and who I’d spend much of the show lightly shoving back into it when they teetered too far into me and the crowd behind me who weren’t in the mood to throw down.
People who’d driven from up north beyond where I was from or from way out in the western part of Southern Ontario into the city for the show. Those who lived in Toronto still had to trek nearly an hour across town to get to History, way out in the east end. And even though I’d come from work which made this stretch of my own trip more bearable, I’d have to walk and talk 2 buses and a subway to get back home.
Going to a show these days is… effort.
And it’s not always worth it but on this night it was.
On this night I was reminded what I’d always loved about watching this band and hearing these songs.
When my feet started to ache I thought back for a moment about how the show must have looked from those comfortable seats up in the balcony. And it must have been around that time that the band went into “Polaris” turning me in a quivering mess trying to contain my emotions.
And it wasn’t long after that that I watched a man with green spikes fall into his goth-punk girlfriend’s arms during “Hear You Me” feeling much the same.
And that’s the part of the show that you just don’t get or can appreciate from the balcony seats.
You don’t see the 35-year olds returning to their teen-selves in the mosh pit, apologizing profusely to each other when they know they’ve hit into each other too hard; You don’t see the smiles turn somber when the songs remind you of a friend or a memory that you’re never prepared to remember; You don’t see the crowd rush to pick up the kid who’s trying to crowd surf for the first time and has fallen to the floor. You don’t see Tom having small talk with the crowd in front of him between or during songs, laughing about whatever he thinks they’ve said.
You don’t see the moment that a band truly connects with their audience.
After the band finished their last song I watched like a proud friend as they took a moment to stand on stage and wave back to the crowd, thanking us for being there and allowing us to thank them for the same.
They’d done such a good job that they came back for one more – they don’t always do this.
I love a good encore because it gives you one last surge of energy where you know for sure it’s the last song and you can just be completely present in that moment in a way that you can’t through the rest of the set. During the main set you’re always anticipating the next song – during the encore, you know this is it.
And it was during this one that I realized it would be silly for this to be the last one for me.
You’d really think you’d get sick of seeing the same band play the same songs as many times as I have, listening to the same records repeat and repeat for years and years of your life, but I haven’t gotten sick of these guys yet and the older I get the less sure I am that I ever will.
After the final bows and waves, I made my way to pick up my coat and then finally made the trek up the stairs to the balcony.
Sure, I had to use the washroom, but I also just wanted to see what it looked like from up there.
And I was glad for the choice I’d made, to stand and suffer through my unsensible shoe choices and remain firmly footed on the floor near the stage as I always prefer.
It was a long way from the balcony to the stage.
There’s no way they had experienced what I had from here.
There’s no way they had as much fun.
The crowd disperses pretty quickly after shows in Toronto – it’s probably one of the things bands like about our city – no annoying fans milling about to bug them after they’ve exhausted all their energy on stage for us.
So of course I wandered around back to do my usual check for the bus. I am that annoying fan, at least for this band.
I couldn’t help but look. Ever since I saw the guys from Bowling For Soup standing outside their bus smoking cigarettes while I waited in line outside of the Opera House for their show when I was like 15, I’ve just always had this thing about the buses.
You know if you’ve found the bus you’ve found the band, and that means you might get to say hi to the band, and sometimes as a fan that’s all you’re looking for – the potential for a moment to be ground level with those you admire.
At History the buses are tucked behind a fence and the venue has a lot more staff than I’m used to seeing at shows. There’s a bus stop right behind there that I was probably going to have to wait at for my first leg of my trip home, so I stood around on the sidewalk for a minute listening to some drunks who were standing by the fence hoping for a glimpse of the band, talking about the show and how long they’d been fans.
It wasn’t long before security asked their rowdy selves to leave, and as polite Canadians, they did.
And as much as I’d hoped for a moment of the same, to say hello again, this time in my own city instead of like the lost puppy I’d felt like in Poland and Chicago, I decided that it wasn’t necessary.
The night had been as near perfect as it could have been for me, so perhaps it best to leave it there and let it remain that way.
Besides, I had to be up in a couple hours to get back downtown to work for my shift at 7AM.
It was almost an unconscious thought but I opted not to wait at that bus stop. Instead I walked further down Queen Street East towards where I’d come from to pick it up from another stop.
And I lingered on the idea that I was making a mistake by doing so but, I stuck to it. Besides at this point what would I even say to these guys anyways that I hadn’t already said by clapping and cheering as they left the stage?
As I waited I thought about the show. I thought about how I really wasn’t looking forward to going back to work in the morning because I’d be so tired.
A minor downfall of attending a weeknight rock show as an adult.
And then on the bus I sat mildly on edge while a man clearly having a not-so-great manic episode screamed and waved his hands in our faces, nonsensically rambling and questioning, “Is it you? Is it you?” as he stumbled hard up and down the aisle.
A woman held her dog close and its leash tight every time he took a step too close.
Nobody said a thing.
As he got off I felt us all breathe a collective sigh of relief and I was reminded that there are certainly worse things than not getting a good nights sleep.
As I laid down in bed sometime around 1:30AM and tried to convince my brain to settle down before my 4AM alarm, I thought about this project.
For a while, much like how at the beginning of the night I was sure this might be the last show I go to for these guys, there were bouts that I couldn’t shake telling me that maybe this was too lofty of a project, too all encompassing of a goal, and too much of a time commitment for what is otherwise almost always, an entirely too short life.
And then I thought about that band Pony and the girl with the squeaky teen voice and how badly I wanted to play on that stage tonight.
And the guy with the green spikes, I hoped he was having a better night.
And that guy on the bus, who definitely had way more on his mind than I.
And I thought that if I found myself continuing to think about these things than that itself was enough good reason to keep doing it.
So I decided to recommit.
If you’re already familiar with this project than you already know a little about what to expect.
If you’re brand new here, you might want to read a little bit about it first on my website.
You can find everything you need on crookedforest.ca and by navigating to the Jaimee Eat World page and discography.
There’s an instagram page of the same name, and a Twitter account that I use only semi-frequently.
This project is not the story of Jimmy Eat World but rather the story of me as told through its songs, recreated with my own style and arrangements.
With each episode of this podcast going forward, I’ll showcase a unique cover of one of the bands songs and tell you a little more.
As it turns out they have a few more songs than I realized when I started this thing, so bear with me while we work through them all.
I play every piece of the arrangement and record and mix the songs myself, so I hope you understand that this all takes a bit of time to put together.
And I’ve never been great about sticking to a schedule.
I’ve always felt like I come into certain songs at the time when I need them most but it takes sitting with them for years to fully understand and appreciate what they’re saying.
And then I have to worry about doing them justice.
So let’s get the biggest and most logical one out of the way first, okay?
We’ll start with The Middle.