Last Friday an old Homecoming concert tradition was brought back to life with Third Eye Blind supported by the Nashville-based Hot Chelle Rae at the Burger Bowl.
Fresh from the release of their first studio album in six years, , the three-piece alternative rock band from San Francisco has been on tour promoting the album as a comeback from the lukewarm reception their last album received in 2003.
Several hundred turned out for the event, which, despite the threat of rain, went off without any major weather problems. The night was chilly but manageable with the appropriate attire. The ground, while damp, avoided the outright muddiness that could have turned the concert into a mess.
On a subtle note, credit goes to the concert organizers and stage crew for keeping the sound levels from the speakers at a reasonable level. Far too many venues confuse the “volume” knob for the “awesome” knob, with the victim being people’s hearing. Rock concerts don’t have to be loud to be great, especially with a talented group like Third Eye Blind.
Opening act Hot Chelle Rae did an admirable job of warming up the crowd. They weren’t really anything particularly special, but they weren’t bad either. They sounded like the kind of band that rock music fans would not mind having on in the background. Their music was well performed, well played and completely forgettable. The crowd mostly seemed interested in getting the headliners on stage anyway. After an hour plus some additional setup time, Third Eye Blind was ready to perform.
Lead singer Stephan Jenkins went so far as to announce early on, “I love it when you sing along. We’re all in the band tonight.” Sorry Stephan, but if we’re all “in the band,” then the average talent level of a Third Eye Blind band member just went into the toilet. The price of admission was to hear you, not to find out which twelve of my fellow classmates can scream “I would understand!” the loudest. For the record, it was a tie between .
“That guy,” also apparently in attendance, was the one that felt the need to remind Jenkins and the rest of the band between every song to “Play ‘Jumper!’ Play ‘Jumper!’” until they mercifully did. Thanks, “that guy,” for reminding them. I’m sure they were planning on skipping one of the perennial songs of the ‘90s until you heroically stepped in.
At least no one was clamoring for “Semi-Charmed Life” because no one can remember the actual name of that song and I’m sure it would have been “Doo doo doo! Doo doo doo!” all night long until they played it. Clearly, Third Eye Blind’s penchant for catchy music is a double-edged sword.
Crowd pandering is a big part of being successful, and I recognize that in this post-BitTorrent economy showing people a good time during live shows so they buy your schwag is more important than ever, but if it’s gotten to the point where you’re not even singing whole verses of your most popular songs because the crowd’s already doing it, what’s the difference between a Third Eye Blind concert and a flash mob of Third Eye Blind fans? $8, apparently.
Jenkins even showed off his sense of humor with a musical interlude of Nelly’s “Ride wit Me.” Considering the crowd noticed and still sung along, students either have a highly developed sense of irony or people will do anything that a person on stage with a band and microphone tells them.
That’s not to say that it was a bad show by any stretch. Third Eye Blind is still Third Eye Blind, and anyone who remembers listening to their 1997 self-titled debut or even just tuned in to an American radio station any time in the late ‘90s will recall the band with the distinctive singer that produced catchy, classic hits like “Jumper,” “Narcolepsy” and “Semi-Charmed Life.”
That was the same caliber that the campus was treated to last Friday night. All the right notes were struck both literally and metaphorically. Jenkins sounded just as good as he did on Third Eye Blind’s studio albums ten years ago. By any tangible measure it was a great night for music and a great night for the band.