“This is the weirdest show I’ve ever been to,” said a concert goer at Thursday’s Third Eye Blind show in West Chester University’s Hollinger Fieldhouse. It is true that genius begets madness and Third Eye Blind lacks for neither of those, especially frontman Stephen Jenkins. Festooned with all the trappings of any former addict turned rockstar, Jenkins walked on stage sans shoes, and proceeded to partake in a number of shenanigans, including playing with a top hat he wore for most of the show and posing for the audience atop a platform behind the drums.
Perhaps the strangest and yet most interesting turn of events happened when the band simply disappeared off the main stage and, unbeknownst to the majority of concert-goers, made their way to a second stage located in the back of the Fieldhouse. They proceeded to play in a mini jam session, “Deep Inside of You”, “How’s it Going to be”, “Never Let You Go” and “Can’t Get Away.”
They returned to the main stage, again under most people’s noses, to play some of their more famous songs, such as “Jumper” and “Semi-Charmed Life,” which surprisingly was not an encore. Mixed in with staple songs that we’ve all grown to love over the years were new songs from the band’s upcoming fourth album, which carried a decidedly different message.
Gone are the torrid tales of sex and drugs; replaced with a socially political message, including lyrics about such issues as Britney Spears’ meltdown and Hurricane Katrina. Although Jenkins hasn’t lost his eccentricity, and alluded to his plans to drink after the show before performing “God of Wine,” he took on a rather Bono-esque persona when he spoke about being together as one, urged the audience to vote and ended the show with “peace be with you.”
However, despite becoming soft in his old age, Jenkins hasn’t lost any of his stage presence and kept the crowd of several hundred WCU students and local patrons entertained. Perhaps more strange than the band’s rotating stages and theatrical antics was the crowd at the concert.
As someone who identifies with a more “indie” crowd and listens to more “indie” music, Third Eye Blind is the one band that seems to be able to have a universal appeal, drawing all kinds of people to their shows. As I looked around, I noticed that everyone seemed to know the words to songs like “Wounded,” “Crystal Baller” and “Motorcycle Driveby,” “bros”, sorority girls and hipsters alike.
Despite crowd/fan differences, we all were singing as one as Jenkins urged to Third Eye Blind’s radio friendly repertoire. Such crowd unity is a rare thing to achieve, but with Third Eye Blind’s unique songs, they are more than able. Few bands can get away with the risque` content that Jenkins inserts into his songs; delving into such subjects as hard drugs (referencing crystal meth and cocaine in several songs) and sex (see “1000 Julys”), but Third Eye Blind has found clever ways to conceal such controversial subject matter. “I took the hit that I was given/and I bumped again” are a sample of the way in which vague references to harder issues are inserted into such feel good hits as “Semi-Charmed Life.”
The band turned into the gift that kept on giving towards the end of their set, performing five- minute solos on each instrument during an extended version of “Jumper” and returning for not one, but two separate encores that lasted longer than most traditionally do.
On the eve of their fourth album, Third Eye Blind has clearly established themselves as one of rock’s most controversial and eccentric bands, who despite this, have proved to be a lasting force in the rock world, appealing to many different types of music fans of all different ages and variations.
Despite whichever form their music takes – glorifying drug use, describing in detail various sexual acts or addressing social issues – everyone will always remember Third Eye Blind as that band that wrote that song you couldn’t get out of your head, the band you saw on MTV and VH1 when you were in third grade and had just started watching music videos. Even though you didn’t understand what he meant when he talked about “bumps,” crystal meth or animal ways, you still found it impossible not to sing along, and even as a college student, it seems that urge is one that cannot be fought. For everyone in attendance, it seems safe to say that Third Eye Blind’s performance at West Chester won’t soon be forgotten.
Amanda Warren is a second-year student majoring in English. She can be reached at AW631747@wcupa.edu.