Ahead of Riptide Fest, Jimmy Eat World Feasts on "Wild, Wacky Year"

Jimmy Eat World headlines Day Two of this year's Riptide Festival, November 23-24 on Fort Lauderdale Beach.
Jimmy Eat World headlines Day Two of this year's Riptide Festival, November 23-24 on Fort Lauderdale Beach. Photo by Oliver Halfin
There are worse times and places to play a gig than on Fort Lauderdale Beach in the heart of November.

Forecasts change quickly around these parts, but for now, it's shaping up to be partly cloudy with a high of 80 when the Riptide Music Festival returns for its fourth edition this Saturday and Sunday.

Sounds dreamy. And Jimmy Eat World lead singer Jim Adkins agrees.

"Oh, we're excited," he says. "Living in Arizona, we know what it's like to get a little warm and fuzzy feeling while the rest of the country is struggling with cold snaps."

Jimmy Eat World is set to headline day two of the festival, whose undercard spans the rock spectrum, with Reel Big Fish, Switchfoot, Barns Courtney, New Politics, Fuel, and others. Day one will be headlined by the Killers, who will be joined by the 1975, the Revivalists, Judah & the Lion, Silversun Pickups, and others. One of Broward County's signature events, Riptide is expanding this year to include a fashion runway show by Queer Eye's Tan France, an enhanced art exhibition, and food demos galore, making the beach experience that much radder.

Fort Lauderdale isn't the first beach Adkins has played in his 25-plus years fronting Jimmy Eat World, which hails from Mesa, Arizona. It seems one beach has stayed with him.

"We were in Barcelona next to the beach, and that really stood out to me," Adkins recalls. He adds with a laugh: "So, no pressure, but you guys are in direct competition with Barcelona now."

It's been a busy year for the band. In October, the quartet released its tenth studio album, Surviving. It's been touring the States on the merits of some of the hits it's spawned, including "Sweetness" (fun fact: it's the rockin' jam played after every Florida Panthers goal at the BB&T Center), "Bleed American," and "Pain."

"There's a micro and macro level to it all," Adkins says of Jimmy's tenth-album milestone. "On a micro level, it's another short-term goal achieved. And on the macro level, it's been 25 years in the making. My attention is more on what's in front of me rather than getting too into future-tripping or looking back on history. But it does feel good."

As for the band's biggest time-tested hit, "The Middle," and Adkins' relationship with it nearly 18 years since its inception? Things seem rosy.

"I love it, and when we perform it, we usually get a good reaction from the crowd," he says. "That’s what it’s all about, and it's a huge compliment as a musician. People are bothering to take the time to see us, and they're living, in different ways, with what you’ve created... They build associations with your work, and for a lot of people, they've chosen 'The Middle' to do that. When we perform it, we get a glimpse of what people have made that song for themselves. It's pretty cool."

After Riptide and looking into 2020, Jimmy Eat World plans to tour Australia, New Zealand, and Canada and will then take another trek through the United States. Along the way, the band will play a few gigs with the recently reunited My Chemical Romance, which will play its first show in seven years December 20 in Los Angeles.

"[Those shows] will be insane," Adkins says. "My Chemical Romance has some very loyal, hard-core fans. We hope people will have patience for a 'not-My Chemical Romance' opening things up. Slayer could be opening for Metallica, and if it's not Metallica, well, people want to just see the act they want to see sometimes, you know? But we've played with them before and it's always a great audience."

Between its current tour and the trek that lies ahead, Jimmy Eat World is ready to roll.

Adkins says, "We're already getting ready for the next wild and wacky year."

Riptide Music Festival. Saturday, November 23, and Sunday, November 24, in Fort Lauderdale Beach Park, 1100 Seabreeze Blvd., Fort Lauderdale; Tickets cost $34 to $199. 
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Jesse Scott is a Fort Lauderdale-based contributor for Miami New Times covering culture, food, travel, and entertainment in South Florida and beyond. His work has appeared in Condé Nast Traveler, Lonely Planet, National Geographic, and his hometown newspaper, the Free Lance-Star, among others.