Third Eye Blind, best known for radio crushing singles like “Semi-Charmed Life” and “Jumper” that broke in the late 1990s, returned to the grunge this year with their 20th anniversary tour. The House of Blues Boston show was only 10 days into the 8 week tour, which made for an energetic show, at the very least.
Let’s take it back to Bamboozle Road Show, 2010. I was 17. I wasn’t even old enough to drive other people in my car yet, and my whole identity was based on the angst-laden lyrics and pounding beats from the likes of Good Charlotte and Simple Plan, who were opening for what felt to me like the more experienced and complex band, Third Eye Blind. They had just released their comeback album Ursa Major, and I had fond memories of their self titled debut album- which dropped when I was five years old- shattering windows in my house from my brother’s speakers. The show was shotty at best- no disrespect to any of the musicians- but Threeb wasn’t into it, that much was clear.
Back to 2013 at the House of Blues, 20 years after Third Eye Blind’s coalition, and my faith was restored. Stephan Jenkins, front man, is now almost over the hump of 50 years old and one interesting dude. Frequently seen on stage wearing a top hat, he embodies the over the top attitude that rockstars are inherently known for. This time around, the top hat was nowhere to be found. But Jenkins kept up his performer motif, slinking on stage for the opening song, “Losing A Whole Year”, under the shroud of a hooded sweatshirt with his face hidden in shadows. As the performance went on, he dropped the hood, and the sweatshirt altogether, and opened himself up to the crowd.
The band played a two hour set, which included a perfect mix of classic 90s grunge and new millenium pop rock, all Third Eye Blind originals. The band evolved almost seamlessly with multi-year long hiatuses to create new material. Their new motto, inscribed on the back of Fall 2013 tour hoodies, embodies the band’s raw nature:
Born in Shadow: As upbeat as their songs can be, this band reflects the darkness that we all have in us. That’s what makes them so damn good sometimes, they bring the stuff you’re not supposed to talk about into the light.
Made of Lions: Jenkins described drummer Brad Hargreaves as such. Midway through the set, the rest of the band left stage and he took over for a 10 minute solo of pounding the shit out of his Ludwig kit and sampling some new agey beats.
Loud as F*ck: Let’s be honest, this one’s self explanatory. Jenkins is known for his rock screams and the band as a whole doesn’t overproduce their live shows at all. But even in the band’s ballads, like “Motorcycle Driveby” and “Slow Motion”, the raw element of emotion and the musicality of it is deafening.
At one point in the set, Jenkins stepped out with an acoustic guitar and heralded the audience “this part in the show is just called Stephan free time, where I can play whatever the f*ck I want!”
In bawdy rockstar fashion, Jenkins was one level above human in every aspect of his performance. He licked his fingers during the partial performance of “Faster”, a dirty dirty song; he posed for pictures while singing; he made piercing, almost unsettling eye contact with audience members; he pounded his chest like a madman. But that craziness aside, Jenkins felt this show more than the last time I had seen him play. He addressed the audience mid-set in a way that was so genuine you could just tell he was there, in that moment 100%.
Two hours, brand new material, and multiple encores later, the show ended and people left, ears ringing and souls buzzing. I loitered harder than I’ve ever loitered in my life with a few other girls, and in about an hour or so he came out of the tour bus. The stark contrast of what was in front of me after the show and what presented himself up on stage was so real and powerful. This guy was exhausted, sweaty, and wrinkled. He wasn’t all powerful, he was cold and tired and so very aware he had 7 more weeks of this ahead of him. He asked one girl if she thought the set sounded okay. As if she would ever answer truthfully if it didn’t.
This band has been together for the entire duration of my existence on this planet, to the year. The lyrics they write and the music they create, it means something to the fans more than it means to them anymore. This tour they’ve embarked on, it’s a journey not just to share their music with fans, but to continue to be musicians and make relevant music after two decades of finding themselves. And cheers to that- because it means so much to us.
“Time passes and it tells us what we’re left with
We become the things we do
Me I’m a fool, spent from defiance, yeah you got me but
I didn’t give up on you”