Live: Jim Adkins breaks away from the middle at Motorco | Music

Live: Jim Adkins breaks away from the middle at Motorco


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Jim Adkins, Museum Mouth
Motorco, Durham
Wednesday, July 8, 2015

The name Jim Adkins may not immediately ring your bells, but that probably doesn’t bother him.

His band, Jimmy Eat World, has found itself in the position of an act that many assume fell into the trap of the one-hit-wonder long ago, now coasting by on radio royalties for “The Middle.” In reality, Jimmy Eat World remains strong after a 21-year career, still working the almost-annual cycle of writing, recording and touring.

But frontman Adkins has elected to step outside the band's comfort zone and play a series of shows without backing. His solo tour, which stopped in Durham last week, is less of an attempt to make a name for himself without “Eat World” after it and more of a break from monotony.

“I know you guys didn’t know what you were signing up for when you bought the ticket,” said Adkins, a few songs into a Motorco set that was split between classics, new material and a handful of covers. Adkins’ insecurity over the nature of the show was met with shouts of reassurance from across the room. You could spot the deep cuts and classics from the excitement that filled the air, as the hushed audience would erupt at the final note. Even a straight-faced rendition of Rihanna’s “Only Girl (In The World)” turned the crowd’s initial reaction from laughter into one swaying pit.

Southport trio Museum Mouth opened. They bookended a career-spanning set with two quiet pieces, distanced from the group's typical pop-punk by intimacy. Those songs suggested a newly bold-faced approach to drummer and frontman Karl Kuehn’s personal style of songwriting, no longer hidden behind high energy or a necessary sense of humor.

Strangely enough, Adkins' success was most evident after he left the stage. After closing with Jimmy Eat World's “Work,” the crowd made their way toward the exit, wholly satisfied. I had entered the show half-expecting it to culminate in a nostalgia-fueled singalong to “The Middle,” but it never came. Adkins freed himself of an obligation to play the hits, and no one seemed to mind.


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