Third Eye Blind
October 5th, 2017 @ The Strand (formerly Lupo’s Heartbreak Hotel)
By: Andrew Szendrey
Third Eye Blind released their first album the year before I was born. Now I’m nineteen, and I just saw their twentieth anniversary concert. I didn’t belong, and I loved it.
I’ve always been a casual Third Eye Blind listener. ‘Jumper’ introduced me to the importance of mental health. Another hit from Third Eye Blind, ‘Motorcycle Drive By,’ has always been a road trip jam; no one can help but sing along to the line: “I’ve never been so alone, and I’ve never been so alive.” I enjoyed their 2016 release We Are Drugs so much so that I still argue that ‘Cop vs. Phone Girl’ was a unique achievement due to the band’s ability to use soft rock as a platform to analyze racial tensions. However, they were never my favorite band, and I didn’t grow up listening to their music. So for me, Third Eye Blind has been a frequently skipped and rarely queued band.
At this concert, I expected to see a lot of fake fans waiting to hear ‘Semi-Charmed Life’ then duck out. What I expected could not have been farther from the truth. In fact, they didn’t even play that particular hit. Instead, I was surrounded by people who knew every word to every song on every album from Third Eye Blind to We Are Drugs. While the band was playing a newer jam, ‘Company of Strangers,’ I found myself in the company of strangers who all seemed to know each other. They have been struggling and growing with the band for twenty years now, and this anniversary tour is their chance to tap into the change each one of the fans has experienced in the past twenty years.
Before I noticed the dedication of the crowd, I was unimpressed. The lead singer, Stephan Jenkins, didn’t leave the front center of the stage except to switch guitars. He didn’t introduce the band, and only haphazardly introduced three songs toward the end of the show, almost as if he had forgotten that that was something he was supposed to do. The other 4 members of the band were rather plain too. None of the other musicians interacted with the crowd, and they were all wearing black. The drum set was transparent, and the drummer in the corner couldn’t be seen for most of the concert. Even the lights were few and far between. Despite all this, they had the crowd’s attention for the entire show. The crowd sang ‘Thanks A Lot’ as loudly and passionately as ‘Jumper.’ Third Eye Blind’s set showed me that I have given into temptation by allowing what I see to affect what I hear.
However, the crowd reflects heavily on the quality of the band’s performance. So I took my egotistical pessimism out of the equation and adjusted my thinking: Third Eye Blind didn’t lack showmanship, they lacked fluff. So I closed my eyes and let myself enjoy the music while singing the words I did know. When I let go of the superficial things, I realized just how smart the band is.
They knew exactly who their audience was and what they wanted to hear. Jenkins said, in a reminiscent voice near the end of the concert, “It’s hard to decide which songs to play for shows like this.” But the crowd hadn’t noticed any difficulties, and neither had I, because Third Eye Blind was playing exactly what their fans wanted to hear. They played all of the songs that the crowd needed to hear just as bad two weeks ago as they did twenty years ago. They didn’t play songs for me, in fact they didn’t play ‘Semi-Charmed Life’ at all. They played songs for the thirty year-old 6’5″ bearded man in front of me, and the short soccer mom to my right. They played music for the fans who never stopped listening to them.
They have been inspiring people for so long that they did not need anything besides the music. The people there were already fans, and Third Eye Blind didn’t need fancy light shows or Gaga outfits to make their fans happy. They just played the music, and it was simplistically perfect. I found myself listening to their self-titled album with my eyes closed on the way home, grateful for the ability to attend a concert that changed the way I listen to music.