The '90s spawned the post-grunge era, with bands like Pearl Jam, 3 Doors Down, Stone Temple Pilots, Candlebox, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Everclear, Bush, Creed, Foo Fighters, Nickelback, Matchbox Twenty and Garbage dotting the radio dial with strings of hits. Some bands faded into oblivion. Some bands reinvented themselves. Some bands remain relevant in today’s music landscape. As far as I’m concerned, Third Eye Blind hasn’t missed a beat since their first single hit the airwaves nearly 20 years ago.
Establishing its niche among a plethora of bands with a similar commercially accessible tone was easy enough in 1997 with songs like "Semi-Charmed Life," "Losing a Whole Year," "Jumper" and "Graduate" up its sleeve. But it was that debut self-titled album’s depth that really made me a fan.
To me, the tracks that never made it to radio were some of the album’s best. If you find yourself in the casual fan category, check it out: "How’s It Going To Be," "Thanks A Lot," "I Want You," "The Background" and "God Of Wine." Those tracks, along with the ones you already know and love, make the album epic to me, or at least a pretty great listen all the way through.
Though the band's relationship with rock radio has diminished some since its debut album, Third Eye Blind has provided a solid catalog of albums: "Blue" (1999), "Out of the Vein" (2003), the greatest hits record "A Collection" (2006), the EP "Red Star" (2008), "Ursa Major" (2009) and the just released "Dopamine" (June 16 this year).
Last night, headlining the Briggs & Stratton Big Backyard stage, Third Eye Blind’s latest incarnation – featuring Stephan Jenkins on vocals/guitar, Kryz Reid on guitar, Alex LeCavalier on bass, Alex Kopp on keys and Brad Hargreaves on drums – brought a new enthusiasm to their tunes, new and old alike.
The capacity crowd grew exponentially right up until the lights dimmed, the intro subsided and the band ripped into "Graduate." Next was "Non-Dairy Creamer," then "Wounded," Crystal Baller" and "Palm Reader," mixing up cuts from across their albums nicely.
When the band started the intro chords to "Never Let You Go," the audience gave an enthusiastic roar. Midway through it, lead singer Jenkins provided some banter, revealing that he loves coming home to Milwaukee because he lived here when me was a baby.
"Summertime in Milwaukee. It's like home to me," he said.
With the band warmed up, the sound board dialed in and the crowd connected, the band decided it was time for some new tunes. They offered "Everything Is Easy," their Third Eye Blind-ified Beyoncé cover "Mine" and then the new album's title track, "Dopamine."
Admitting they threw out the setlist for the night and were relying on Twitter requests to fuel the night's songs, the show was a mix of everything, ping-ponging from classics like "Motorcycle Drive By" and then a self-proclaimed rock opera "Get Me Out Of Here" from the new album.
Though I find the new album an updated version of what make me like the band in the first place, the crowd seemed a bit lukewarm on the new tracks. Thankfully, Brad Hargreaves' drum solo brought a nice interlude with some funky break beats that sounded equal parts early hip hop and Atari 2600 soundtrack to get the crowd going and grooving.
Then the band was off into another new song, "Rites of Passage," which has the feel and energy of the song that put the band on the sonic map, "Semi-Charmed Life." "Jumper," the band's last song of the set from their self-titled debut album, got the biggest sing and clap-along from the crowd as the song reached its highest point, and the strobes on either side of of the stage bathed the audience in staccato light.
After a few moments of a empty stage, Third Eye Blind hit back with the anthemic "Something In You" from the new album before blistering into crowd favorite and alternative radio staple, "Semi-Charmed Life."
The show had the look and feel of their BMO Harris Pavilion show exactly one year ago, only this time with way more than just two songs from the new album.
All said, a couple things are clear: Third Eye Blind is back with a new album and a new enthusiasm, and they'll be back in Milwaukee before you know it.
Never Let You Go
Everything Is Easy
Losing A Whole Year
Motorcycle Drive By
Get Me Out Of Here
How's It Going To Be
Rites Of Passage
Something In You