Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Jimmy Eat World and Paramore rocked a diverse crowd Saturday night

It doesn't matter how jaded you are, if you don't develop a crush on Paramore frontwoman Hayley Williams by the time their live set is over, you have no soul. Sure, the Tennessee quartet's pop-punk sound isn't anything new, but the young band writes some seriously catchy songs and Williams has the confidence and the pipes to win over any music cynic. Williams is the pop-punk princess Avril Lavigne wishes she could be, and watching her lead Paramore live Saturday night at NIU's Convocation Center opening for headliner Jimmy Eat World was fun and refreshing.

It was a family affair, as most of the crowd comprised teens and, occasionally, their parents in tow (mad props to the dad on the floor dancing with the three 14ish-year-olds with him -- you earn brownie points galore). But in addition to that were, of course, college kids and the rare older fans (ahem) who were there to relish Jimmy Eat World's guitar hook-driven alt rock. Emo. Whatever.

They didn't disappoint. Mixing favorites spanning four albums, Jimmy Eat World traversed most of their career, whipping new fans into a frenzy with tracks off their latest record, Chase This Light, ("Big Casino," "Always Be," "Dizzy" and "Here It Goes") and making old fans happy with tracks off 1999's Clarity ("Lucky Denver Mint," which sounded a bit rusty at first, "Crush" and "Blister"). The heaviest songs in rotation, though, were off 2004's Futures ("Kill," "Pain," "Work" and "Futures") and 2001's platinum-selling self-titled effort ("Bleed American," "A Praise Chorus," "Hear You Me," "Sweetness"). And, of course, they closed their encore with their biggest hit, "The Middle." Which this usually optimistic fan is admittedly a bit sick of. - Kim Jeffries